Cover your mouth when you yawn, or spirits will fly into your body,
Gramma said as we weeded and watered, picked and pruned in the garden.
Evil spirits fly into my eight-year-old body?
Evil like the snake in the garden of Eden?
Maybe there’s a snake in Gramma’s garden:
staccato tongue a breath away from mud-covered toes
waiting for me to pass its shadowy hole.
If evil spirits flew into my body, slithered into my soul,
then I might become a snake
eyes never blinking. And when the heavens yawned
and stretched at dawn, my spirit
would soar into the sky and fly into
the sun’s flaming body
and it would swallow me whole.
Claudia Reinhardt is a freelance writer, editor, and tutor. Her work has appeared in Fox Cry Review, Nebraska Life, Plains Song Review, The Wisconsin Review, Writing in Community, and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets.