by Amanda Roth

My earliest memory is a dream: a snake
uncoiled in the garden
and coming for me

When my son was born, I became a stranger to my own body. While some parts of this new frame
now sagged, others writhed. The pink incision across my abdomen was both numb and flaming;
doorway and fist. I bled for weeks. I slept in forty-five minute bursts, waking in pools of hormonal
sweat and sour milk.

Until one night, I found I could no longer sleep at all. Delirious with longing, but all I could do was
lay in bed and wait for my son to scream.

a gaping mouth
sliding through the dark;
black eyes fixed
on the warm red of my heart

Eventually, even my son figured out how to sleep. I bought melatonin from Costco, hung blackout
curtains, buried myself under a weighted blanket. And yet I lingered at the edges; close enough
to feel sleep’s familiar black depths ahead of and below me. I could never fall in.

I scream
as I am swallowed,
as I disappear into the dark
maze of its body. I
scream, but I make no sound.

Years have passed. My breasts are no longer heavy with milk; my son sleeps soundly through the
night. But I pace the halls. I move from room to room like a ghost.

Nobody knows
that I have been taken,
held in these writhing walls.

Tonight, when my husband’s snores reach their crescendo, I slip out the back door. For hours, I
weave through the darkness left behind by the streetlights. Miles from home, I cut through
someone’s wet lawn and unlatch their back gate. I do not know these people, but I know that if I am
not quiet, their black dogs will bark.

No one knows
that I am still

I drop my shoes into an empty lawn chair, then discard my shorts in the grass. My oversized t-shirt
is left in a crumple on the patio stones. I step into the swimming pool and let the warm water slide
up my body in slow motion: thighs, stomach, breasts, neck.

I exhale, and the water ripples silently in reply. I let myself go under, laying myself out along the

Amanda Roth (she/her) is a poet and folklorist living in Central Texas. Her debut poetry collection, A Mother’s Hunger, was released in 2021. Her work has been curated by Portland Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Kissing Dynamite, and elsewhere. Follow her at