by Michael H. Brownstein
Have little to do with my wife’s obsession with snakes.
She turns off the heat a few hours before bedtime waking me early with a tired rhythm
of cold blood.
Some mornings cold wipes the floor with Saran Wrap and she remains undercover till
Other times she unhinges herself from bed in a slow stretch of wills to let in the sun.
There is always enough stored here and there to fix everything broken, but there is also
school, a studio to make music, a need for a new boiler and a roof and my
promise to tuck point this summer.
When she finds her fingers are warm enough to bend, and her wrists, and her elbows, she
bends her long legs and tells me to add earthquake protection to our long list of
As frightened as she is of snakes, they are always around her—at the Katie Trail where
we walk, in the bushes near the restaurant where we eat, near the opening of our sub-basement.
Sometimes late at night, her warm body near, I know her heat as the grip of a constrictor.
She owns a python’s strength and sometimes a rattler’s sadness, and still she loves me
regardless of my teeth.
I try not to find myself in tooth loosening moments, but they find me, one loose tooth at a
See this missing tooth? That happened when a gang of teenagers with one or more
guns jumped one of my students.
He is still alive and for his life, I donated that tooth.
I can explain what happened to the rest, but it is only more of the same.
Have you ever seen someone allergic to cats? Then you know how the cat always
welcomes them into its household.
That is the way of snakes and my teeth, my wife and my outrage, how sacrifice really
does describe all of us.