by Sonya Taaffe
Like casting a snake's skin, you slid between those who see the
sun and those
who are shadow, those who eat immortality and those whose lives
and I moved only one way between the worlds: downward, inward,
earth and all that was rich in it, to the river's hateful shore.
had been gentle, because you had smiled so that I would entrust my
your touch and never believe a word spoken in solemnity, I watched
were out of sight.
But you were never out of sight; at the corner of the eye, at the
the shoulderblades meet beneath the skin, I felt you. In piled
plucked music, you were there. In deceit, in honest dealing, I had
all the years of my life: you were the word unspoken on everyone's
You were in the next breath we drew. You had held my hand when my
gone, when all I carried in my mouth was the charge of my
crossing; you were
as certain and untrustworthy as the turn of every season, even in
where there are no seasons and no change, and when you were gone
shore I spat the coin into my hand, your votive, and turned to
ferryman with a smile.
Sonya Taaffe has loved mythology since she could read, told stories since she could speak, and hasn’t stopped yet. A Brandeis graduate, she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Classics at Yale University. Her poem, “Matlacihuatl’s Gift,” won a 2003 Rhysling Award; her short fiction and poetry have appeared in various magazines, including Not One of Us, Star*Line, Mythic Delirium, and City Slab.