How would you describe yourself to others?

When I was young there was a small diamondback
rattling up at me from the casket

of my pool’s filter. I finagled him
into a Folgers tin, popped the unpocked lid on,

and let him heat in the sun. Every few hours
I’d shake the tin until its insides stopped

shaking back. A month later the snake
looked like a stiff black shoelace, a half-knotted

pretzel charred and forgotten amid paltry drifts
of coffee grounds. When I was young

I’d swim during lightning storms, tiptoe across ice
so thin I could see dead leaves trapped like pigment

in an iris; as soon as department-store intercoms
crackled alive, my mom wouldn’t be surprised

to learn that someone found her daughter
jumping puddles in the parking lot. I never felt

danger was greater than immortality, no matter
the men I’d flash at rest stops on the way to out-of-state

soccer games, breasts hardly budded,
or the man who groped my preteen ass

with the hand not gripping his toddler’s wrist—
God bless you, Blondie like hot Coca-Cola in my ear.

I always had a soft spot for sharp bursts of adrenaline.
Even now, I leave the bar after last call

and barrel past my house, slither down backroads,
into a speed-limitless country. Accepting the dark’s strength

to birth deer, oncoming cars, turns too coiled,
more darkness.


Amy Marengo is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Virginia Tech, where she currently teaches first-year writing. For information on publications and awards, visit her at