The Art of Sideways

Northern hemisphere   it’s almost Christmas.
Sunlight   withdrawing into its darkest shell of green
coils   ring by ring   like a yellow snake   in a tight burrow.
The snake’s sleep   maps an origin   pinpoints the start
of where morning lies — its polished skin   a simple clock
turning every so often   leaving a scaled   topography behind.
But just as rain can fall sideways   and eyes look aslant
might a northern winter   not widen light in the same way
a snake   exceeds its skin?
Last summer   I stood over a sheath of snake   in the bush.
The tail tapered   the head was marked   with the shape
and angle   of invisible eyes.
It could have been a hairnet or a ghost   but it was quieter than that.
It could have been laid out   across a plate of vine leaves.
A seamstress could have used it as tulle   a fisherman as netting
the desert salt   as cracks.
Trees are empty on the sidewalk   their fallen leaves   layered
and overlapping   like shelves of ancient papyruses.
One tree casts a long shadow   two arms striking upwards
as though piqued   by pavement light.
Between the shadow lying flat and still   and the tree standing
long and tall   there is an angle of forty-five degrees.
There is Icarus   falling from blue   to decimal   to amber.
The distance between north   and south   is mapped
with the shape   and angle   of his eyes.
The snake’s skin is colorless   his eye invincible.
The winter light is warm   piercing darkness   radiating
a trajectory that points in all   directions.