Embrace by Janie StapletonPoecology
Issue 5

Tyler Erlendson

King Snake

Here, the king snake lives in the tall grasses,
feeds by gulping up frogs in the wetland
that is pinched between a mobile home park and freeway,
where the ducks pay him no mind as they
seek easier prey, a meal less deceptive.
I have been keeping my eye on him this week as I
move through the field, clearing in prep for fire season,
another bad drought plagues California, but he
seems to mind little as he drapes himself in the sun
across the rocks I’ve just mounded for him.
Picture this: Adam is ashamed of a man
bending over, sweating, to see that a snake is comfortable,
though it’s an excuse to stop mending the wire fence that tears up my hands,
a nod to a creature that would never want to be held.
Do you ever wish the same for yourself? To not need someone to hold you?
To be able to slither away, unannounced, sloughing off skin that no longer fits?
Maybe you were turning over a pile of compost or sitting in traffic on the way to work
and you thought: I should have been born a different beast,
a red fox with its slight chest but determined nature,
a panther, ghost of the forest, moving through the trees in solitude,
a rooster that understands its call
making no apologies for the announcement.