The toad shook off two snowy
eyebrows with a sudden twitch.
Mud shivered in the blowy
balm, rippled the juicy ditch.
Toad popped its eyes awake,
tapped by a warm green witch
and listened for the snake
between the lines, between
the woods and the lip of the lake.
The snake wiped itself clean
against a brand new blade
of grass, and practiced looking mean.
Scales, skin newly-made,
wet with excitement and tight
on the courage of the unafraid,
tongue flapping a small red kite,
snake kept its body low
in wait, and saved its bite.
The toad, heavy and slow
with eggs, had to cross the line
between new waters and old snow.
How could a snake pine
sentimentally for what
its gut demanded by design?
Snake brain cracked like a nut.
Coiled venom, raging spit
leapt from the rut
and took the toad, near all of it
into the mouth. But deep
the toad moan would not fit
nor drift to easy sleep
down in the snake. It caught high
in the maw, swimming to keep
alive. The monster that followed
was dreadful to see, as it tried
to get into, get out of, the hollow–
a birth in reverse, blaming the sky
for being unable to swallow
for being unable to die.
(This poem was composed after actually witnessing the snake/toad event and posted two spring equinoxes ago. I’m posting it now as I greet autumn, for my Southern Hemisphere readers who are greeting spring. I was surprised to find that it works for me, either way, as an “equinox feeling”.)