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Texas Spotted Whip Tail

A grueling undertaking—gatekeeping threshold

of home and wild.

I tried to lead you, or someone

like you, back where you belong.

My body

behind your body, both beyond your rightful being.

Attempted to head you off, turn you around,

but you scurried from my steps, escaping

my sight.

It is too much to chase you—seek you out

concealed as you are now (somewhere, everywhere).

In this place you should not be.

Finally I find you, or someone like you,

beneath bone-white bars shelving mounds

of discarded garments.

Happened upon

as crusted clod of mucus cast to corner.

Crumpled flesh of festered fruit; Skin shriveled

to leaf-curled leather.

Vacuum-sealed cells

discolored, darkened. Your ultramarine green elapsed

to putrid pewter.

Rust red now necrotized copper.

Mouth sealed; eyes sucked dry.

Skull a solid husk

of wrongness: malnutrition, malformation, maladapted

to this place.

Digits splayed in rigid resistance: bent, brittle, broken.

Lint clinging claws and limbs; shed hairs coiling abdomen

and tail.

I can see it all now, same story spent

once and again: thin skin, out and in, in rapid succession

until ceasing.

Waiting for the world to look

a way in which you could survive.


Melissa Nunez is an avid reader, writer and homeschooling mother of three. She lives in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas—a predominantly Latin@ community. She writes both essays and poetry inspired by observation of the natural world, the dynamics of relationships, and the question of belonging. Her work has been featured in FOLIO, Yellow Arrow Journal, and others.

Image by Melissa Nunez, edited by Ren Koppel Torres

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