An Old Enemy

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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.