The Imagined Copperhead

By Andrew Hudgins b. 1951 Andrew Hudgins
Without intending to hide,
the imagined copperhead
hid on the path ahead,
unseen on bronze leaves, unheard,
and a mortal likelihood   
at every step. This was childhood,
mine, the wood’s jihad   
against a boy who’d
intruded among monkshood,
wasp, tick, and nettles haired
with needles. Scrub brush abhorred
him with a horde
of  welts, bites, and stings, but he’d
never seen a copperhead,
though he’d looked hard
taking, as he’d been ordered, heed.
The snake wasn’t a falsehood,
though, to him. Dread
was his nature, and he hared
through sunlight and shade, head
swiveling for the copperhead
he’d begun to covet, the ballyhooed
killer a camouflaged godhead
on which his inborn faith cohered,
and his priesthood.

Source: Poetry (May 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2008
 Andrew  Hudgins

Biography

Poet Andrew Hudgins was born in Killeen, Texas, in 1951. The eldest son in a military family, Hudgins moved around the American South for much of his childhood, eventually attending Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1983. His poetry is known for its dark humor, formal control, and adept handling of voice. Hudgins’s first book, Saints and Strangers (1986), was . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Religion, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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