The Crimson Lungs

Flames lick across the face, twisting it to new forms, crunch of teeth, convulsions, broken bones, mangling flesh.

When he still had legs, he called himself
a leader of something. His spirit struggles
to remember, his tongue splits, now he slithers through the rust rock in the deserts of the Chisos.

Furling naked, he lies in wait for the mole rat,
his body vibrates in singular, limbless motion,
purpose transfixed in the infrared.
In that moment he learned the beauty of snakes, the dragon of creation,
peace he never had.

But there were no more words for this in his mind.

In Waco, the sermons he gave, demonic serpents, vile beasts, the rattlesnake skins hung from the walls of his altar. She remembers this.

He does not, scarlet snake, Cemophora coccinea.

Even now he has always already forgotten, echoes resonate the chambers of his many ribs, ripples the breaking light of dawn.

Daylight comes, he seeks shelter from the big two-leg under mattes of yellow grass. A surge, his reptilian thoughts coil in something like frustration. He crosses flat, black rock, joyous heat.

His spirit strains, the name said to him. He sees the flash of steel. The blood-stained rocks hold the memory, the breathing of iron ore.