Snake in the Door

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Here I was, the lover of the friend
Of this family with an interloping snake,
Stuck in the door to the garage, of use for once.
How it was caught—the upper neck
Under the door and wrapped back between
Door and jamb, head seeing its tail—
I couldn’t say. No way to know
If it felt pain or just embarrassment—
Hey guys you won’t believe this but
But the household’s children were afraid
And the snake needed freeing. I tried to clamp
Its body before opening the door
So I could remove it to the field,
But the snake—a black racer, I believe—
Slid through the plastic tongs
Easily once the door unlocked.
Perhaps I wasn’t pressing very hard.
Waved right behind an extra fridge
And then who knows where—to a clutch of eggs
In the clutter-clogged corner of the garage;
Some other escape port to the yard.
When I was a kid in California,
My mom went four houses up the street
To ask a wrinkled, Asian man—
A weekday, all the other men were at work—
To remove a garter snake that lolled
In thirsty grass too close to where
My brother and I played, and none
Of us would touch it. It was harmless.
He speared the snake with some long fork
And carried it across the street
To a scrubby vacant lot. I knew it was dead.
I never saw the man again.
I’d never seen him before, either.
We only make so much room
For what we’re afraid of.