On the road before sunrise,
so none of us were citing
Homer, Keats, or Dickinson
during the drive to catch my flight.
Only after I’d asked did Sean
and Jens mention the anaconda
they had found once
in Sean’s cattle pasture.

From time to time
someone spotted the height
of egret whiteness
crossing daybreak’s blaze
or a runty marsh deer
sprung from her rushes
or a flock of wild turkeys
on the shoulder interrupted.

In heavy, unexpected traffic, Jens
talked of his old job at an abattoir,
how they cleaned and sent
the best pigskins
for making footballs.
Then Sean recalled how skillfully
his own son had eviscerated
their dead heifer for autopsy
a couple of weeks ago.

And as the lengthening string
of brake lights lingered,
Jens remembered a similar moment
some thirty years before
when a flower child, his hair
flowing from under
a red bandanna,
strode past lanes of stalled cars
as buck-naked as he pleased.

Though all of it passed over me
like sand over glass.
I wanted too much to know more
about a thing that could
swallow any of us whole,
as it had in Eden,
if my friends witnessed
some epiphany in the snake’s
ashen scales or those jeweled eyes,
whether his tongue was split
with a few dry morsels of truth
and many delicious lies.



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