by Shweta Narayan

Green-tailed Grandfather lizard climbs
wood-edged red-dirt staircase crosses
yellow-stripe sticky black road crosses
chicken-wire white picket fence skirts
green plastic sprinkler hose smells
orange dryad walnut deva apricot kodama stops.

Says, "Why are you here?"
Leaves shrug
Nuts rattle
Fruit falls, soft rotten splat.

Grandfather lizard passes
flicker-lit screen-caught men crosses
red-tile sun-hot courtyard stops.

Says, "Silver sagebrush huddles Red-dust pathside toadflower cringes
Yucca's young die
on yellow-stripe sticky black roads.
Snake hides.
Why are you here?"

Swimming-pool nixie shakes chlorine-pale hair sends
blue droplets arcing says,

Green-tailed Grandfather tastes chlorine-heavy air says
"Go home."
Nixie weeps blue droplets "Home
is thunderclouds spitting
black blanket rain pitting
green water home
is crunchy fish and careless squirrels
not dust and thirsty air home
is moonlit humans knuckles pale on silver tossing
salt over shoulders.
Go home? How?"

Grandfather green-tail says
Gruffly as grandfathers do
"Well child, you're here now."
tail-flick acceptance.

Palm flat nose flat window-watcher swallows
"Grandfather, I'm here too."

Shweta Narayan says: I'm something of a cultural crazy-quilt; I was born in India and lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Scotland before moving to California. Any mask that chose me would be a snake, but the type and history of the snake might change.

I also have poetry in Coyote Wild and short stories in Strange Horizons and the Journal of Mythic Arts, and forthcoming in Realms of Fantasy and The Beastly Bride anthology. I attended Clarion 2007, for which I received the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship.

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