The House Snakes

for Nyani Martin


You knew our strength,

we were the maze’s clew

coiling in your goddess’ fists,

the sidewinding horns of the bull

tossing dancers through copper-blue infinity.

Son of serpent-footed kings,

he should have twined his wrists

with yours, not left them

for the wild grape and the ivy

to lasso into immortality,

however better-starred

than the black sails of his father

or the red reins of his son.

Let him try the earth again,

we will be waiting

in the cracks of palace walls,

the roots of dry olives.

When your crown dips to meet

his sire’s ocean,

under it our earth will always shake,

our restless scales unfurling to enfold

your arms of wine-dark honey as you come home.


(Editors’ Note: “The House Snakes” is read by Matt Peters on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, 44A.)


Sonya Taaffe

Sonya Taaffe reads dead languages and tells living stories. Her short fiction and poetry have been collected most recently in the Lambda-nominated Forget the Sleepless Shores and previously in Singing Innocence and Experience, Postcards from the Province of Hyphens, A Mayse-Bikhl, and Ghost Signs; her chapbook As the Tide Came Flowing In is forthcoming from Nekyia Press. She lives with her husband and two cats in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she writes about film for Patreon and remains proud of naming a Kuiper belt object.

Photo Credit: Rob Noyes

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