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.