Skip to content

Beth Ann Fennelly – Ⅳ

The Mommy at the Zoo 




I used to sleep better I used to

be smarter remember for example words

and remember when I learned them


there was a word for example

for the way a snake loves

a tight place a crevice a chink in rocks


now the word won’t answer

though my daughter knocks

the python sleeps tight in his glass hut


the word has slipped

my mind between a rock

and a hard place


Mr. Snake you

you are a . . .

a something-o-phile


O you sneaky . . .

something-o-phile . . .

I rummage


but the word

is nowhere no

where in my diaper bag


among the handiwipes and gummibears

sippiecups of Juicyjuice

crayons slinky and cow-that-goes-moo


before I was a Mommy

say 4 or 5 years or

decades ago I could think in complete


sentences remember all

my favorite words like the one

about loving the tight fit which I did


in the French Quarter

where the hot rain rained down

in the alley beside the bar


where I was bolted against the iron gate

by Tommy’s hard cock

hot rain falling on my upswung face


each vertebra fenced

in the tic-tac-toe grid

each vertebra X-ed


on a treasure map

bezel set what a night

for a girl forged of carbon


all bone and saxophone

notes bouncing to her

through the hot drops of rain


who was she

that fresh squeezed girl

just temporarily out of her mind


if it’s true as they say

that I am now

that same she


the word I seek

would come slithering

find a chink and wriggle in


like the small child up ahead

darting through scissors

of grown up legs


her silhouette

in red exit light

slow down I’m coming wait


wait up