“After the war a twenty-eight-year-old girl came
to see me, wanting to be cured within ten hours.
She said that she had a black serpent in her belly.
She thought that it should be awakened.” –Carl Jung
This was the first time I heard of such a snake.
Ten hours would only infuse her with sympathy
for the energy pressurizing her gut. For her sake,
I implored more sessions. I asked for seventy.
Asleep in the mangrove above her womb,
the serpent snuggly nested in the darkness of her fears.
Here, I told her, the beginning is the end. A tomb
equal to a birth. Haven’t you, for many years,
sought to sit upright as you double over?
Her eyes looked slightly dead. Her face weak.
In her hands I placed oil and earth from the Great Mother,
leaving with her a soft prayer to speak
each night before getting into bed.
Then I went home and burned a candle. I burned sage
as I understood the meaning of the root. My head
acting as the handle of the staff. And between, rage,
fear, anger, anxiety, and others, joining fists.
One journey describing another, I thought, breathing,
wondering how a woman like her exists
with such a snake below her breasts, seething.