When Snakes Had Legs

Before my mother birthed me in a hospital in Queens,
I lay thin as the eucharist inside her, my skin

frogged night that would soon emerge. Long ago
snakes had hind legs, large jugal bones that let them

open wide mouths. Before my mother held me,
I peered through watery depths, defined my world

as kick, as swallow, as inexact flesh. No one knows
why the serpent lost his legs. It’s a mystery

like bats that greasepaint night sky, erupt
from caves to track what we can’t see. Before

my mother cradled me in the parrot-green room,
in the crank-up bed, I lived in the cellar of her body,

watched my fists like small spiders lift to my mouth.
Once snakes had hind legs. In Argentina, their bodies lie

preserved, slim, but not yet limbless. They must have
moved with chests rammed against earth, rows

of bones flexing over the hard deal of ground, gliding
ever closer to what the world became.