Amanda Newell

Meditation on a Shower Rod at the Super 8
July 24, 2020 Newell Amanda

Meditation on a Shower Rod at the Super 8


You and I are snake bit. Can we postpone?
Your words, liquid-lit in my palm like a fortune.

I don’t know what, exactly, being “snake bit” means to the Tuscarora,
but I know enough to know
we’ve been poisoned, spiritually speaking.

Maybe this time for good. By whom, I don’t yet know.


My search results say the water snake is
a Tuscarora legend. Abnormally large,
it rises from the depths of the lake to seize its human prey.

Like the pit viper, who will strike
when threatened, it prefers to be left alone,
which is how I am beginning to think I would like to be left by you.


Did you know my ninth grade English teacher was fired
for telling us suicide is the final fuck you?

I’m thinking my thinking about her right now
may have something to do with—let’s face it—
how little you must think of me,

and the clarity that comes after five hours of driving
straight through the heart
of Jesus country, where every barn roof and billboard
preaches the Word to the road-weary.
You can save yourself in Bristol. You can repent in Johnson City.

You can stop traffic
at the top of the Bay Bridge and pray
no one will stop you from jumping.


When I don’t respond:
Did you get my message?

Who is she, I want to ask, but don’t, as I scroll through
hundreds of pages of bloated faces, blistered feet, charcoaled flesh.

Thou Shalt Be Saved, said the sign. Is this why
they put Bibles in every bedside drawer—
Thy Rod and Thy Staff, etc.? And why not put my faith
in something real, something I can put my hands on?
Here, in the hot glare of bath light, such a shiny promise.


Amanda Newell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, The Cimarron Review, Gargoyle, Rattle, Scoundrel Time and elsewhere. The recipient of scholarships or fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She also holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson’s program for writers.