No one has ever asked if I watch my snake eat. Last week, yes. After cleaning her tank, I caught the tail of a mouse hanging from her mouth like a foreign tongue. She swallowed it then readjusted her jaw against the glass. She's not a large snake. Not dangerous. Still, she can wrap herself around my arm and squeeze, and I wonder.
What else I wonder is if my upstairs neighbors know they sleep above a snake every night. I haven't given them any information beyond, "Your dogs bark when you're away," and, "We don't own a car. The driveway's yours." I find it best not to mention reptiles to strangers. My pragmatism is naked that way. My cold rationality. Some people have an effortless time smiling at dogs and children. In other words, they don't have to try. Do I even need to say it? I have to try.
I try to find the words.
My friend and I argued years ago. In the end, she compared me to a villain. I turn that over sometimes. Even now I wonder if I conflate myself with my snake.
What has become easier for me is excision. Cutting away. I write about a problem, and the problem (mostly) disappears. Less so with my obsessions. When I write about those, I'm writing about an almost inaccessible self, deeper than the stuff I've gathered and carried. My first book was about those weights. And just for the joke, I lost that weight. Now when I write, I find myself poking my influences right in the eye. Why are you here?
No answers. Of course. Only more obsessions. More, more, more. I could never do drugs, which is to say I could never do drugs and stop. A few years ago my friend began asking everyone she knew what this life is even for. I thought I knew, but I only knew how an animal knows. Snakes don't ask questions. Back then I told my friend we were here to pick something to do and do it until we died. I'm not so sure now I've started asking the same question. Not because there's nothing to do. There's too much to do, and moment to moment, I can't pick.
Let's start with tonight. I'm going out, and I don't know what to wear. Wait, wait. Don't tell me. Clothes, right?