poem18 Apr 2016 08:10 am

By http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/5a/1e/dd149efd818af4b11c1fba7e0204.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0022736.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36555068

Slithering through the dark
bowels of the city in storm drains
where sewers often overflow,
the parthenogenic progeny
from an escaped pet python
survive on rats, unwary
city workers, and the odd
miscreant fleeing the law,
pressing the last breaths
from their trapped bodies.
Nightmares beyond reason,
they inhabit and haunt
these dank concrete
and steel caverns.

Some claim that through
generations born and surviving
in the fetid dark, they have bred
to albino pythons capable
of mesmerizing their prey
with a single glance of
their lustrous purblind eyes.

Others say there will come
a day when they will emerge
from the bitter depths below,
from storm drains and manholes
and along the banks of the river.
Shunning the harsh light of day
they’ll come in dead of night,
pale specters from hellish depths
devouring sinners in their beds.

Then there are those who
tell the story of a little girl,
seen after midnight, walking
barefoot through the dark
asphalt streets of the city,
wearing torn yellow pajamas
splattered with blood and
a young python twined
around her neck, a living,
breathing ophidian necklace.
She is the ghost of the city’s
corruption made manifest,
a perverse little demon
with sharp young teeth.

They say it’s her, with her
flaming hair, who leaves
a phosphorescent red trail
behind her, who was the
first to be dropped into
the sewers, the first to
have seen a nest of pythons,
to heat it with her human cells.

In revenge against those who
left her to a watery grave,
she has given to the snakes
an advanced intelligence,
a key to the weaknesses
of the Lords of the Earth
who walk on two legs.

If you meet her when
you’re alone after midnight
and your own path turns
a phosphorescent red,
grasp a silver crucifix,
pray to your failed gods
for salvation, take off
your shoes and run away.

They call her Anja The Red,
this ghostly witness who
warns that beneath your feet
where your worst fears
and obsessions fester,
a growing reptilian city thrives,
waiting to embrace you
with its slick relentless coils.

Eight snakes, including a reticulated python, a slow worm, a thirst snake, a Russell’s viper and a mythical two-headed serpent. Engraving, ca. 1778. Iconographic Collections
http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/V0022736.html
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