Tickled Pink by Carol Potter

I didn’t know it would be problem. Her raising rats in the back yard shed, the chirping sounds they made when they heard her coming through the grass. How they liked to be tickled. How she liked teaching them about the psychological benefits of laughter. From time to time, you could hear her laughing above the chirp. I thought maybe she was telling herself jokes. Thought maybe she had somebody out there with her. Some kind of affair I didn’t know about. Otherwise, no problem, except when the neighbor’s pet snake heard what was going on and came slippery slide out of his cage. Who could blame him for not being able to resist that laughter? If you’re not the one laughing it can make you feel a bit lonesome. Maybe he was lonesome. Hearing it from one yard over. All that tickling.

Imagine sliding out into the yard in that moonlight so sad as he was and hearing all that giggling. Maybe he just wanted to see what was going on in the shed. Maybe he just wanted to touch some of that happiness. Perhaps he needed to hold it in his mouth. How we do do that if it’s something really good. You want to touch it with your tongue. Taste it before swallowing. Feel it in your own belly. The snake thought it would be so good having all that inside himself. That he could swallow it and love it all at once. He imagined himself laying out in some  sunny spot somewhere; out of his mouth some giggling. Some belly laughs. His own little spot of happy.


Carol Potter is the 2014 winner of the Field Poetry Prize from Oberlin College Press for her fifth book of poems, Some Slow Bees. Forthcoming publications include poems in Plume, Hotel Amerika, and The Laurel Review. She lives in Vermont and teaches for the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA program.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash


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