Photo: Terri Drewry
In a world tall with grasses,
wild oats and rosy thatches
of dry filaree, we seldom see
our feet upon the earth.
In frequented places
like water troughs and barns,
like vegetable gardens
saving trips to town,
we are prejudiced—
react without a thought
against a race of snakes
that want no trouble
to claim the space
in which we travel
with a shovel.
On the semi-arid edge of jet streams,
already rattlesnakes and dust in the road
framed in rusty Fiddlenecks and green
filaree, lush as lettuce. Hard shell of clay
and granite bring us off the mountain
through the bluff of fractured boulders,
blue lupine spears in pockets of golden
poppies grinning, open to the sun.
I forget the year, but it was March 3rd
I killed two below the den beside
the steep and rocky draw to Buckeye,
that waterfalls after a good long rain—
the earliest ever, sunning in warm dirt.
They have no calendar, no date circled
to leave the medusa tangle, brittle rattles
brush in a black hole. No fan of fear
fogging climate change—another sign,
a new extreme for snakes: more days
to make a living between shorter vacations.
We add the signs, the trend is dry, despite
El Niño late to work as south slopes turn
summer blonde and brown. Two months
early to be thinking: weaning calves—
we take instruction from grass and water.
We may be sipping the last of spring.
February 25, 2015