On tiptoe putting away a box
of cereal, she felt the first
tingling between her shoulder blades.
She checked her watch: 5 o'clock,
and stepped to the bathroom, slipped off
her dress, her shoes, stood with her back
to the mirror. Twisting,
she saw: an inch long, at the base
of her neck, a gap. She walked
naked to the kitchen,
put the milk in the refrigerator,
drank some water, then went
to bed. Hours passed. Looking
out the window, she watched
a barn swallow zigzag
across the lawn, saw the fuschias
needed water. And all the while
the gap along her spine grew longer,
like a crack across a windshield.
Next door, a baby was crying,
and someone played a piano. Finally,
near dawn, the fissure stretched from the top
of her skull to the base of her spine.
She wiggled her shoulders
free, slipping her arms from the arms
that clutched the pillow. And gently she
wiggled her hips free, and gently
each leg. Then, at least, she slipped her head
from the old one and got out of bed.
She felt cool. Her new hands were larger,
veinless. And who knows, she thought, but someone
may be watching. She closed the blinds,
locked the door, and got back in bed, exhausted.
And ravenous. Her shed skin, rigid, amber,
translucent, stretched out
on the sheet. She began to devour it.