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Snake Analysis

Author: poem of John Burnside Type: poem Views: 3

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As cats bring their smiling

mouse-kills and hypnotised birds,

slinking home under the light

of a summer's morning

to offer the gift of a corpse,

you carry home the snake you thought

was sunning itself on a rock

at the river's edge:

sun-fretted, gracile,

it shimmies and sways in your hands

like a muscle of light,

and you gather it up like a braid

for my admiration.

I can't shake the old wife's tale

that snakes never die,

they hang in a seamless dream

of frogskin and water,

preserving a ribbon of heat

in a bone or a vein,

a cold-blooded creature's

promise of resurrection,

and I'm amazed to see you shuffle off

the woman I've know for years,

tracing the lithe, hard body, the hinge of the jaw,

the tension where sex might be, that I always assume

is neuter, when I walk our muffled house

at nightfall, throwing switches, locking doors.

Anonymous submission.


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