Snake

The thunderstorm came like a pot boiling over and the color
of water was made by that, all of a sudden, a pigment
more tropical than dense with the reflection of light.
Everywhere the scent of at least five different kinds of plants
lifted up. The desert can’t talk back but I believe
it breathes instead, breathes vivid when the water
wants it the water can’t wait and it breathes back.
I turned and went into the house.
Under the dining room table, a snake.
Green with a yellow stripe bisecting its back.
Motion ate each centimeter of floor
and air, scared, it makes sense to say, though there
exists or existed no safer time ever in which that shape
wouldn’t want to move, dead August being the exception
to this when heat makes molasses of all of us.
Why did I want to chase it out? I did, I got a rake and kept
making it make that beautiful scared
shape upon the floor, so clean.
Like two ice cubes rubbing each other
and too cold to melt. Nothing organized that fear.
Seeing the edges it found its way out.

Katie Peterson, "Snake" from The Accounts. Copyright © 2013 by Katie Peterson.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
Source: The Accounts (The University of Chicago Press, 2013)
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