Everything burns to cinders
in the presence of a little king,
crested serpentine, crowned
in dishonour as it advances a wildfire
in the singe of toxic words.
A basilisk is sibalant
even from the incubation
of a toad's egg: it is possible,
I suppose, to be born monstrous, or
to see the world itself, from youth,
as poisonous, as an invitation
to destruction from a nursery of despair.
A basilisk has shrugged off
the spears of men, brought death
or driven them to madness,
a hydrophobia, to die of thirst -
though I have never been afraid of water,
its tumbled energy of memory, under
and over, the motion of fluid;
what it washes away, the gentle lap
of a loss of perspective.
A basilisk is not invincible,
only raised to think so, quite a shock then,
to find its nemesis in a weasel.
Both with noxious breath, of course,
so that we can curse the very air,
the unfathomable, the conveniency
of the unseen: we like to fill in the blanks,
fabricate taxidermies of motley parts
from an assortment of creatures,
to declare - here is the villain - and
foregoing honesty - we make our monsters,
I tell a story where you are the basilisk
and I am the weasel,
how we kill one another in an alchemy of ashes.
Image from wikimedia commons: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hane_basilisk.jpg