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Potential Energy

October 31, 2013

The anaconda at the Houston aquarium,
kept safely behind thick panels of glass,
sits coiled in its own rolls of loose skin,
never moving, except for its black eyes
and black tongue,
its slack body terrifying
for its potential energy.

And now I, walking into this building,
take one quick glance behind me,
at the morning air
and the dignity I left behind me in the car,
before I open that glass door.
It seals behind me, and, head down,
I move slowly to my place.

I sit, biding my time,
my clothing loose, my necklace clasped in my hand like a rosary.
I no longer wear eyeliner
because eyeliner
doesn’t matter
in a place like this.
Just survival. Just survival.
I am still, behind glass.

I do my job. I do my job.
I do what must be done.
I search and search for beauty, connection,
an answer to my question.
But what they need me to do
is do my job.
I am not a teacher.
I’m a prison warden.
I do my job.
They have ways
of making sure that I do.

And so I sit,
moving rarely,
doing this job
which must be mine.
Trying not to claw and struggle,
like the others,
just to stay in one place.

But what I do know is
this place
does not remove
the power in my coils,
does not render me
so low
that I am no longer deadly.

Slide back that glass,
just for a minute.
I’ve held so still all this time,
you must think you’re safe.
You must think
I’ve forgotten how to strike.


From → poetry

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