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His Side

May 26, 2010

by LaToya Jordan

The broken rib
ripped from his
body has swollen
to ten times
its normal size.

The serpent whispers
a word,

Bind.

The man picks cotton
from the garden,
soaks it in the blood
of the creature
he calls pig.

He wraps the cotton
around the wound,
winding tighter
with each rotation.

The serpent whispers
a spell in the man’s ear,

I bind thee.
I bind thee.
I bind thee.

Three times
the man repeats.

He changes
the bandages daily,
kneads the skin
around the rib
to make her
more supple
than Eden’s soil.

The man and serpent
pray together,

We bind thee.
We bind thee.
We bind thee.

Until the rib shrivels,
a limb as crooked
as branches
from the Tree of Life.

The man believes
the serpent’s words,

You will be strong like your God.
You will be God of this world.

But when the man
walks with the rib
his steps come short
like the animal
he calls penguin.
He hobbles
through the garden,
his ungodly body
swaying from side
to side,
a serpent
learning how
to use two legs.


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LaToya Jordan (website) is a poet from Brooklyn, NY and lives with her English-teacher husband and two cats in a tiny apartment with an infestation of books. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in the Splinter Generation, the San Pedro River Review, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

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  1. JJS
    June 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I so love the familiar-but-strange perspective of this poem, LaToya: the hobbling man, ungodly & swaying, is such a powerful image.

  2. June 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Man and serpent are one. I so want the chanting and binding to work, but the point seems to be the communication, the connection.

    Nice use of repetition, ritual.

    Great word choices: pig, penguin, pray, rhymes with serPent, spell, shrivels, swaying. broken, body, branches, bent. ribs, ripped.

    Man as serpent, animal.

  1. May 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm
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