Poem: The Annotated Snake
The fundamental snake
is an arm without a body,
the ornament of bloodless embrace
than the hilt of a Persian dagger,
husk of Indian corn –
the cold rustle of unsheathed danger,
Kali’s necklace with its rattle of skulls.
The mortal snake
is the essence of entanglement:
a turned-out intestine –
glut of ancient fear,
the fragile neck of a swan
in the savage garden,
a severed umbilicus
lost to both worlds.
A slumbering snake
Is the shadow of a lifeless branch,
invisible seam of the quilted desert,
arc of the moon, sculpture in grass,
a river run dry, a vein of blown glass,
an unspun mandala, a circle uncast.
The prophetic snake
is the tongue of the fallen god
Uraeus, caduceus, Kundala –
A sinuous Z
Fluid as fire, final as the dust,
A tail of a comet that ran out of time.
The modern snake is a condom,
the future tied up in its domed head –
All those little lives that won’t be born
because there is no antidote
in the dark human blood
against the sting of its own kind.
”The Snake” appeared in the author’s first collection, All That Saves Us, Black Moss Press, Windsor, ON, 1998.
(c) Lea Harper, 1998