A SNAKE AT DUSK IN INDIA
There was water and the old fort at dusk,
the village child driving the cattle home
with their slow neck bells muted with dust,
the last crow calling from a camel’s corpse,
a man’s cycle’s wheels spinning on the sandy track,
the dry field’s stubble cracking as we walked.
In the last red sun you lay,
drinking the hot earth’s arms.
The shadow above your face woke you
and you struck, rearing like magic ropes from pots.
I jumped backwards
my two sandals empty,
laid at the altar of your rearing being,
your small eyes seeded with myth,
an ancient form, older than rocks.
And, because we were both flesh,
here in the old dusk not far from the stone wall,
beside a drying lake, remnants of another season,
with a sky wide and endless above the dark hot earth,
you turned and slipped away,
and I walked on, still feeling
the brush of your cold scales against my naked foot.