Nancy: Do I like snakes? Yes. Did I like teaching children about snakes? Yes. Am I careful never to injure a snake? Yes. Nevertheless...
It was a snake.
Where? How big?
What color? It was
the color of...
well, it was a snake-y
color; it was as long
as the grass is wide;
it was there; it probably
is still there.
I am not phobic. I have
carried our friend the snake
in two hands and shown
him to children. Gently,
I caution; he is fragile;
his ribs are slender and many;
I carry a picture of the delicate
skeleton; I calmly remove his teeth
from my thumb.
Did you see me leap?
Hear the almost-stifled sound
of a person whose bare foot
has said snake? At that moment
it was 1,000,000 years into
my future when I would say,
“feel the smooth flow of his scales;
watch him taste the air delicately
with his tongue; see how he enjoys
coiling around my warm body,” sliding
strong and muscular under my shirt.
Alan: The only Chat I’ve ever seen was dead from striking our window. But twice on June nights I’ve awakened from sleep to listen, astonished.
His Indulgence And The Song Of Birds
That perfect summer night I heard the Chat
pouring from the copse
its extraordinary invisible flow
of music and noise,
I thought of Ryokan stumbling loaded
home from some farmer’s kitchen
pausing every few feet
to extemporize fortissimo
to the company of gods.
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