Poem by Dana Levin
Lady Xoc 8th Century, Mayan
You’re supposed to say shoke but I like shock.
Who drew a spiked rope through her
offering tongue to
into the threads of bark paper, coax
so she could froth up
the Vision Snake…
In this particular design
the Snake has two. The lower
disgorges a warrior-god and the upper the ancestral
Two mouths: you’d think,
two opposite positions. You’d think she faced
a breaking choice:
For wisdom she went to a fanged mouth,
So she could answer
a trick question: man or god
how honest they were, the old
Look how she kneels
in tranced adoration, the long spear pointed
at her brow.
from Banana Palace, (Copper Canyon Press 2016)
Dana Levin’s fourth book is Banana Palace (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). Previous collections include In the Surgical Theatre and Sky Burial, which The New Yorker called “utterly her own and utterly riveting.” Recent poetry and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry 2015, Poem-a-day, Boston Review, and Poetry. Levin is a grateful recipient of honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN, the Witter Bynner Foundation and the Library of Congress, as well as the Rona Jaffe, Whiting and Guggenheim Foundations. She serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Maryville University in St. Louis.