by Kristin Robertson

Rats scribble behind sheetrock,
                this farmhouse their only sanctuary.

They jot notes in the margins of our bedroom
                where once I told you I made rent

three summers working as the snake lady
                at a county fair. At midnight I’d rise from my pit

and buy all the vendors’ forsaken cotton candy
                with dollars children whirligigged down

onto my scales, writhing with the forged magic
                of the merfolk, the centaurs, and the harpies.

Clutching spun sugar bouquets, I’d kiss
                the petting zoo goats and lambs funneled

toward their troughs and pine straw
                and zigzag my entrance ramp. I’d vanish

into my trailer with the curtained window.
                Somehow, after each show, I’d uncoil

into a warm-blooded woman again.
                In the attic the rats tear hunks of insulation

into pink cumulous, a whole sky I’ll gather
                by armfuls and climb back down into this life.

KRISTIN ROBERTSON recently graduated with a PhD in creative writing from Georgia State University, where she served as an assistant editor for Five Points. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Smartish Pace, Copper Nickel, Mid-American Review, and Verse Daily. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and teaches at Maryville College.