I rescued a snake

from my cat today,

guarding its piles of coils

from a distance.

Hooked over a stick,

I slid him into a box

And walked toward the trees

for a release away from patrolling felines.

Playing dead a thing of the past,

he now raced around his new cage;

his black-tipped, red tongue

flicking into every corner.


I become convinced of his ability

to go straight up the slick wall

and make his escape.

I dump him on the ground.

I haven’t got all day

to watch the antics

of a snake

He lands in a heap,

Looking a bit like a twisted roller coaster

for crazies and fools.

He’s still as a stone.

How long can he lay like this–

his orange-striped, black body

Looping around to flash the pale, pale green

of his belly?

The patterns along his sides look so familiar…

Where have I seen them before?

On a belt?  On boots?

In an Indian desert painting?

Did the four-inch tumble to the ground kill him?

The sun strikes a drop of water

on an up-turned curve

and glistens.

“What patience!”  I think,

my feet begging to ache

in my crouched down position.

A tongue flicks through a loop.

The head follows slowly.

and I wonder how he can continue

without tying himself

in a knot.

In his hesitant glide,

I marvel

at the rise and fall of breath

in just one spot.

As his head stretches forward,

the whole body begins to flow

following the pre-determined


What is he waiting for?

Does he sense my presence?

Is he gloating now in his discipline,

knowing what I want to see

and knowing I can never win

this game of patience

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