The serpent rattles like dry seeds
In a gourd, coils in a dark box.
I've seen how grace stuns a man,
Drops him with a quick hand,
Splays him like lightning.
The eyes of a healer are feral,
The yellow translucence
Is cold as a snake.
I've seen the tangle of tongues
As they spit a broken language
Wet with froth and sibilants.
I've heard the holy yammer.
But now the long and writhing
Diamondback rises in rings,
Spreads a necklace head to head.
It flicks a reed, fumbling for speech.
The pink mouth opens,
Finds at last a sudden word.
The spirit sweats,
Latticework lightning branches
In the blood. Venom runs deep,
Rubs the bone, makes it shine.
They dance the Tarantella,
Their faces bright and blue as a soul.
They drop, go down to darkness.
What rises trembling then is pure,
Newborn, as they stumble like Lazarus
To the upper world of light.