"Nymph"  Copyright 2000 Haze McElhenny


She would have made a good wife
had she not a secret passion for serpents,
a delight in murder,
a covert craving for the sweet pierce of thorns,
the need to spend three months of the year
with the sly —the barren— the damned.

She believed in ecstasy, refused to be damned
to a lifetime as some man's wife.
But she wanted health insurance as the years
passed, in case she was bitten by one of her serpents
or got infections from her many thorn
wounds. She didn't have a lawyer if caught in a murder

dragnet. More likely, she would be the murder
victim of one of the many lovers who damned
her to hell and wished her body thrown on the thorns
of the cacti surrounding her house. No good wife
could allow so many poisonous serpents
to congregate, more each year

because she fed them. As cacti and the years
wrapped around her and the sun murdered
her skin, she came to resemble the sly serpents
that lived under the front porch—that damned
rotten porch that almost made her wish she was a wife
and could chase out the snakes and hack back the thorns.

Truth is, she had a greater love for thorns
than comfort, and in the two thousandth year
of our Lord, she realized that Jesus never had a wife,
and his reward for teaching light and love was murder.
Jesus loved Mary Magdalene, never damned
her for her love of serpents.

So she resolved to suffer her beloved serpents
and proudly wear a crown of thorns
like Jesus who loved the damned
the most, and in her fiftieth year
renounced her elaborate plot to murder
an old lover who had abandoned her to be another man's wife.

Despite the serpents that multiplied with the years,
despite the thorns and murder
intrigues, she would have made Jesus a damned good wife.

Louise G. Whitney copyright 2000

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