A delicate striped garter snake
in my little home aquarium
somehow I fancied it knew me
how it went limp and lethargic
like my marriage that ended
I set my snake loose outside
and never ever saw it again

Or else that other garter snake
in the fast-growing April grass
I stopped the mower too late
and mowed its tail by mistake
how for three more summers
that same abbreviated snake
kept showing up in my yard

Or that magnificent long boa
in the parking lot of the A&P
how the teen in a green shirt
let me stand holding his snake
the dry softness of snake skin
firmness of tightened muscle
that kid will be a good dad

Or the rattler up on Dufur hill
as it lifted its triangular head
and rose straight out of its hole
seeming to dance as it rattled
how it enchanted my crazy dog
how I grabbed the dog’s collar
and the snake sank back down

Or yesterday the solid bull snake
I met on my daily morning walk
half way across the gravel path
how it stopped and looked at me
its black eyes rimmed in yellow
how the dog missed that one
as it darted into an invisible hole

Also the Biblical snake with fangs
and its sly conspiratorial smile
in a symmetrically espalied tree
how it slithered just to the level
of my open mouth and held out
the world’s most perfect apple
how gladly I bit it

how I munched
how I swallowed
how I don’t yet
never will
regret it