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Blue Racer


And so on a hike in spring

I meet her again


And always it seems

For the first time—


And always now maybe the last,


In the lingering chill

 Of a Michigan May afternoon,


Where she suns

On the woodland floor


In the first green breath

Of the understory:


A bullwhip

Cast to the trail,


But blue—


And in certain light

Cerulean blue,


Like a gauntlet flung down

From the punishing Heavens:


A blue racer.


All vitality is suspended

Along her five mazy feet

Of tapered length,


But the beetled relucent eye

Is trained on me,


And the restless flame

Of the tongue

Is ready to ignite

Her invisible fire.


In the tiny mirrors

Of her scales


Shine the cloudless skies of Eden,


But already the Fall,


Already the sentence

Of her limbless in the dust,


Already the proclamation

Of our enmity:


She is still settling

Into her being,


Her fresh metamorphosis

From fallen angel

To magnificent reptile.


One more step her way


And she tenses

Like a readied whip.


Another step—


And off she flies,


In dread of being forgiven,


In dread of becoming

An angel again.


And such acceleration!


Her spectacular

Horizontal soar!


Her vanishing

Blue rivering

Through the understory!


As the downed leaves

Crackle in her clear fire,


And I chase the temptress

On feet




Through brush

And over treefalls


Toward a final glimpse

Of her raveling tail


As she weaves

Into the warp and weft

Of the Earth


And is gone.


And all summer long

She will meander

The woods’ thick foliage



This non-venomous


In her secret azure—


This ever-rarer

Cold-country snake

On an ever-warming planet.


And how will I find her

Before it's too late,


To broker a lasting peace

Between man and serpent,


To make amends

 For a misbegotten myth?



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