The Tanka class tonight at The Met Library here in Atlanta was great. I didn’t expect to have so much fun. The class wants to meet again, and they are working on their own tankas. I am so glad we did this, though I was sure that no one would come. LOL!
This poem is dedicated to my cousin, Jan Eppinette, in Colorado. Jan has challenged me to post a nature photo for seven days, but I am no photographer. Jan is. So, I will post within this week, nature poems. Thanks, Jan. Appreciate what you are doing.
SNAKES IN THE ‘HOOD
“When people see a snake, they think a serpent.
When they think serpent, they see Satan”
….former State Rep. Douglas Dean, who was caught carrying a packet of cocaine in his wallet.
Oh, my dear garden snakes,
Run and hide in the leaf litter!
You appear each spring as if birthed from that old stump,
Your beautiful duns and browns and moss greens
Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.
I remember wearing you as divine jewelry
Around my slender wrists as a child.
You terrified the adults
but transformed me into Cleopatra.
I remember a box under my bed
Disturbed by a dust mop,
And a dozen of you slithered out
Felt the 200 year old wooden floors,
Cold on your bellies.
The handler of the dust mop screamed
And I never could find you all.
Did you disappear out that window
Where you would have dropped 30 feet to the ground?
I mourned for those missing
And learned adults didn’t have the tolerance
Of children for the miracles of nature.
Later I remember eating blackberries from
A stand of rambling bushes,
Warmed by the July sun
Of the North Carolina mountains
And below me a cotton mouth doing the same.
I backed up out of fear and respect,
But the blackberries were good
A truce was called,
Enough for both to share.
I remember the black racers
That hung in the pine trees
And we, daring each other
To run under them,
Hoping one of us would get squeezed
In your embracing coils
But it never happened-
You knew our game.
In other cultures you snakes
Symbolized the umbilical cord
Joining all humans to Mother Earth.
In ancient Crete
You were the guardians
Of the Goddess’ great mysteries
Of birth and regeneration.
The Hopi Indians
Joined the snake of the Sky Spirit
With the snake of the Earth
And dancing with them in great reverence,
Loosened them into the fields
Where the golden corn was growing
To bless and secure their fertility.
No garden hoe will touch you,
My dear little garden snakes,
No stoning of your innocence,
I will gather your twine-ing bodies
And lift you above the ignorance of bigotry.
They violate their God’s dictates
“Even to the lesser of you amongst us”
And you, without limbs or voice are surely that.
If not beloved by God, surely you will be beloved by me.