The Snake

Brian Swann

                  green, hunting, long as my bootlace, thumb-thick,
whips in front across the path, a flick, a curl like the Pueblo sign
                  for flowing water, renewing rain, lightning, so fast it
isn’t there, but green, green as the beans in cans salvaged
                  from her mother’s Brighton Beach apartment when we
had to clean it out, cupboards stuffed with empty glass jars,
                  plastic containers and bags, a few cans of carrots,
yams, potatoes, peas and cut green beans from Meals on Wheels—There!
                  A shiver as it passes through air it stains green, skin
like foil flowing back together which I probe with my boot,
                  deeper into leaves under thornbush and dockmackie, deeper into
dead twigs, into old snake-hoarded earth, trying to peel it all
                  back and my mother, picking and peeling her thumbs
so they bleed and she can’t stop, bobbing in her rocking-chair
                  made from an old leather car-seat, and my child’s eye
cannot unlock itself as I’m stuck on my knees in musty humus
                  and thinking I’m hungry, and looking harder for what
I’m not sure but know I won’t find though it’s always there.

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