(Part II of III)
Many years ago, my dog caught a big, fat snake in the backyard.
She carried it back to the front yard
Like a trophy
It writhed in her mouth and my other dog snapped
At it, wanting to share
In the glory
My mother shouted at them to drop it
In disappointment, they released the snake
And trotted back to the field
Don’t touch that, my mother probably said
But when she went inside, I lifted the snake
In two hands and carried it to where the pine trees arched over the fence
To create a shaded tunnel
Where I sat on the bouncy strings of the rusty
Contraption that I had been told was once
For drying laundry and stared at the snake
It didn’t object to being held
In my gentle hands.
I watched it, murmuring encouragement
And apologies as it rested
Stretched across my palms. My dog
Had punctured the snake with the sharpest
Of her dull teeth
Come in for lunch, my mother probably called down
From the high kitchen window
I know now that snakes have
No ears and therefore cannot hear
My words of comfort. But I would still speak them anyway,
Because snakes do have eyes and maybe they can read lips
When I tell them good luck.
And snakes can feel vibrations and sense heat,
So maybe they can feel my heartbeat and maybe my warmth reminds them of
I eased the snake onto the ground and wished it
Well. It slithered into the tall grass and, I imagine,
Into snake-heaven--though I didn’t consider this
At the time. I figured its skin would grow back.
I tried not to look at the wet dirt
Where the snake had coughed up its stomach.