Snake

Prairie Fire - - MATT ROBINSON -

I.

A snake in the grass,

she said, How apt, I thought—its hiss­ing head

then again sev­ered, all picture-win­dowed,

again, these years later: torqued & blade-flung from

that sum­mer’s mown whirr; crassly

horked & blood gartered—briefly, un­gainly—along the glared panes

of spent youth’s two-stroke take on what

con­jured nos­tal­gia might con­clude was at stake, might

rec­om­mend to give up, by way of sug­ges­tion.

A field work, this sort of scaled laun­dry

list. On how mem­ory moults, sheds its skin; on how nar­ra­tive

arcs plan re­volts—over­throw their own terms

of ref­er­ence & be­gin to eat their own tails. (The gist?

These cir­cuitous break­room asides have us, now, all at­ten­tion; we’re rapt,

well-charmed & re­galed.)

ii.

There are times

rec­ol­lec­tion’s a res­ur­rec­tion of noth­ing

but harms: a small forked-tongued thing, a split skull

for­lornly sus­pended by slick lig­a­tures of its own

sud­den lace leak­ing across the once-pris­tine face of the house

you think you grew up in. Times

it’s a guil­lotined snake. An un­easy whole—a crude bi­fur­ca­tion;

deco­rum’s last-minute, un­planned va­ca­tion—but

no longer a some­thing we’re mss­ing: a few feet away, the rest of it

lies, lawn-essed in place, un­spool­ing & torn.

Florid ex­e­ge­sis gone meta-. For though hemic

& strewn, this butcher’s best guess is a now-cool­ing vi­o­lence: A mis­take. In

the past. A thing best left

as is. Just

a snake, in the grass.

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