Monday, October 24, 2011

881. Black Snake - Mary Oliver

The flat rock in the center of the garden
heats up every morning in the sun. Black
snake coils himself there neatly. He has
cousins who have teeth that spring up and
down and are full of the sap of death,
but what of that, so have we all. As for
his sporting life, there are many things
he can do and I have seen a few of them:
he can climb a tree and dangle like a red-
eyed rope out of its branches; he can swim;
he can catch a mouse and swallow it like
a soft stone. Also he can lie perfectly
still and stare with his lidless eyes in
the greatest hope: that you will not notice
him. If you do, however, he will loft his
chin and extrude the fray of his tongue,
which many find frightening. But tell me,
if you would praise the world, what is it
you would leave out? Besides, he is only
hoping that you will let him live his life.

And now that you have seen him, he looks
shyly at nothing and streams away into the
grass, his long body swaying like a suddenly
visible song.

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