She wanted a child so found a possum skull.
The loamy smell of the cypress swamp rebuked her.
Day shrouded into night. Soon her body felt heavier
than stone, and the skull possessed her. It was her birthright,
her occultation. There was a story in the bottomlands
that spirits—smaller than pomace flies—rode
in the incorporeal pouches of the possum. She ran
her fingers along the dead rows of teeth. All was overture.
Her husband claimed that as a boy he killed a cottonmouth
with a limb from a black tupelo, but when he tossed
the limb into the brackish water it roiled into life
and muscled off. At night the cricket frogs sound like stones
flung one against the other. She rises from bed
and holds the skull against her as her husband sleeps.
It will not suckle. It presses close and will not let her go.