Snakes Nest Here
We've got more snakes than you can count.
Green ones with skin like snot on silk
coil in mimosas and copperheads bask
on slate shingles beside porch steps.
Some dwell in cellars and eat their cousins,
kings or corn--I can't remember which.
When the man who cuts our lawn runs over
a snake I watch the pieces twitch. He stomps
them into the dirt warning, "You gotta get 'em
before they make it to a hole and grow back
together." He sends me under bushes to check
for rocks, or to keep me honest. He says,
"Ain't right for a girl to lie around all day,"
and gives me a buck. I follow him like a bird
for bread, help gas the nest of yellow-jackets,
fetch him Cokes from the fridge. Come lunch
we eat sandwiches by the creek, the bush-hog
belly-up on the hill. I lie back and swat
gnats as he slides his hand under the hem
of my shorts, fingers like snakes chopped
by lawn-mower blades, trying to get back
underground, to re-form. He pants three
times, pulls out his hand and wipes it
on the grass. Eyes slicked over, he doesn't see
the moccasin eel out of the creek and fix
its gaze on us, head like a fist above the rocks.
But he sees me sway my hips when I walk;
I draw the mark of snakes and men alike.
Jennifer Armentrout studied Comparative Literature and Ancient Greek at the College of William and Mary. She currently lives in Seattle with her young son and works for IBM. Snakes Nest Here is her first poetry publication.