Mordedura de Serpiente by Tawni Waters

Today, my blood is composed primarily of white wine.  I drank it last night in lieu of red to keep you from mistaking me for a thing with gory teeth, a vampy wolverine.  You played your guitar, and I watched the strings, thinking things no nice girl should ever think about fingers. Señoritas danced around you,mariposa tattoos fluttering.  In my head, I said, “I want to be your butterfly specimen, brittle on your board, brilliant wings pinned.”

At the mercado, the woman said, “Almost free for you,” as you sorted through silver things.  You picked out a cobra ring, and I wondered who the snake was, me or you.  In my head, I said, “I want you to bite me on the neck.  I want to die screaming with your venom in my veins.”

As I slid the ring on your finger, you smiled.  Your calluses were like braille.  I wanted to read them all day.  Time slowed, and dust mites glowed like embers from an ancient fire. “Quanto es?”  When you spoke, you were a bomb, exploding the world around you.  Alone, you floated in a mushroom cloud of slow-mo dust.  Inside my head, I said, “I want to crawl inside your fire, let you burn me down to bones.”

Shelved sugar skulls watched, leering.  “La suerte está echada,” they whispered.  Were it not for the sea shushing me, I might have said vile things about that ring, fallen to my knees, wrapped my tongue around your finger like the silver snake, swallowed it whole.

Tawni Waters is a writer, actor, and gypsy. She has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of New Orleans. Her work has been published in Best Travel Writing 2010, Bridal Guide Magazine, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, Albion Review, ABQ Arts Magazine,So To Speak, and Conceptions Southwest, among others. She was a regular contributor Albuquerque’s East Mountain Telegraph. In 2010, she won the Grand Prize in the Solas Awards Travel Writing Competition. In 2009, she won the Editor’s Award for Fiction from Ellipses Magazine. Her novel, Empire of Dirt, is poised for international success, which is a euphemism for “has been rejected by every agent in the U.S. and three in Canada.” She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her children and a menagerie of wayward animals. In her spare time, she humanely evicts spiders from her floorboards and plays Magdalene to a minor rock god.

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