I never bothered to explain
our first encounter so awkward.
But I'd heard you were smooth,
a killer, with venomous heart,
forked piercing tongue,
maraca rattle and vampire teeth -
aggression you’d hide, to victimize,
the way evil things do.
Your reputation repulsed me.
I could not love you.
I had always wondered about that girl,
who did. Thought she was just neurotic,
maybe psychotic 'cause she even rallied,
advocated for you. She a blind, bleeding heart.
Me so wise and cautious. I laughed at her.
Sorry, I just thought I knew.
Hope you can understand Fred,
Why I prejudged you.
I held on to my fear,
the way we people do,
when ignorance seems so clear,
we sanction the right
Luckily, I took a chance,
allowed learning to cause change.
I discovered not only beauty
but purpose, even comraderie, shared nature,
the you in you.
I never thanked you Fred,
you taught me all relationships
are about coexistence.
I love you now that I know you,
I'm no longer a threat but a friend,
and friends let friends be free.
(Written for Poets United where Susan challenges us to write about snakes.)
Fred was a true friend. He appeared in my front yard one morning, lost, confused because of all the construction humans were building around us. He finally chose to live primarily in a flower bed , then moved to another area on the side of the house.
Friends would often want to see Fred, who would just lay there unafraid. I learned to accept him though I respected the innate qualities that come with being a rattlesnake. Finally, I called an exterminator, not to kill Fred, but to transfer him deeper in the desert where he could live peacefully. I hope he lived a good snake life.
Many other snakes have visited our home - inside and out. We have found no need to kill them. They're usually more afraid of us, than we are of them. We do, however, have to be careful with our dogs whose natural curiosity could get them hurt by a snake bite.
I have some funny and scary memories about snakes. Don't have time to share them now, but I do marvel at how a girl from the inner city, South Bronx wound up living in the desert having such compassion for snakes. Life is a marvel.