Just past midnight when I walked out back to piss in the yard
I saw at my feet in a patch of moonlight
the old enemy coiled on the root of a cherry tree.
It didn’t rattle or move, and I thought it might be dead, then the fat tail twitched as a slight wind washed the root with shadows.
I backed away slowly, looking for the shovel I kept leaning against the fence.
It wasn’t there. So thinking omen, I left the snake and walked back into the house.
This morning I saw my mistake. A rope the tree trimmers left last week lay draped across the root of the cherry.
Omen? Maybe. But no mistake.
In deep memory the danger remains – the fat rope coiled and ready to strike.