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Summer by Robin Coste Lewis

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Robin Coste Lewis

Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin
on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being

postmodern now, I pretended as if I did not see
them, nor understand what I knew to be circling

inside me. Instead, every hour I told my son
to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled

a banana. And cursed God—His arrogance,
His gall—to still expect our devotion

after creating love. And mosquitoes. I showed
my son the papery dead skins so he could

know, too, what it feels like when something shows up
at your door—twice—telling you what you already know.


Have you ever ached for something that was once a part of your body. How you carried something inside yourself, until time wrenches it out of you—and how that is partly an act of love, and partly an act of violence.

Some days I feel I am the one standing with the door open, facing what has appeared before me, wondering if it’s a sign from the universe. Some days I feel I am the self shedding self, and want nothing more than to slither away in my new skin.

How do I love you without being scared, knowing what’s out there in the world. How do I love this world, knowing what it’s capable of. And yet.


This poem appeared in Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, published by Knopf, 2015. Shared here with profound gratitude.


Read more works by Robin Coste LewisFind books by this poet • Or view my library


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