SNAKESKIN

BY R.S. BOHN

A rattlesnake crawled across our doorstep and left its brown, papery skin behind. Soon after, ghosts rustled through our rooms, hissed against the stove and windows, but coffee still boiled and the mice skittered out so we lived with it. Daddy told me to throw that skin away, but I put it in a cigar box in the bottom of my closet, and just knowing it was there made me feel safe when the doors shook in their frames and the wallpaper began peeling in long Vs in Granny’s room. When I married, Momma stood on that doorstep, yellow apron in her bony hands. The wind blew from behind her. I stuck my head out the window of the Pontiac, watched her until the dust rose too thick. The box laid on the floor between my feet. Our new house had a tiny bedroom closet, but there was room for it at the back. At night, he touches me like I am rattlesnake skin. He touches me like I am haunted. I slide against him for his warmth, and I close my eyes and think of the box in the closet.

R.S. Bohn keeps things in cigar boxes. None of them, apparently, can exist on lettuce.

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