The Watersnake

His form began its senseless change,
    And made my senses waver dim
        Seeing nature ferocious in him.

           – The Groundhog, Richard Eberhart

In June, amid the bones of a creek
I saw a snake dying. It rose on its coil
as if climbing a ladder, as if hearing
flute music playing in the baskets
of passing bicycles, the children flying
Then it fell. It’s fitting that a snake
should do something utterly snake-like
before dying. What is utterly human-like?
The transportation of parasites? Building
a tower of love to knock it over? Nature
is already ferocious in us, Richard
the maggots and bleached architecture
I lifted the snake with a stick, draped it
over a stone. The head moved. I wonder
what parts of me will move. My wandering eye?
My restless legs kicking off the pants
to a burial suit, my fitful thoughts? Could
my body convulse so strangely that the people
around my bed all grab extensions of their arms
to poke me with? Will you, Dick, return
to mark my decay? To jab me with your walking
stick, and do neither good nor harm?


Link to Richard Eberhart’s full poem, The Groundhog


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