Picture Book

I don’t like my title. Oh well.

Picture Book
His gentle dumb expression turnd at length
The Eye of Eve to mark his play; he glad
Of her attention gaind, with Serpent Tongue
Organic, or impulse of vocal Air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
– Book 9, lines 527-531, Paradise Lost by John Milton

My children identify animals,
name and order according to their kinds.
We turn to reptiles, son and daughter
shrieking, “Snakes are scary!”
and I agree, an after-Eden Eve.

But being ten, I watched a garter glide
between my hands, my voice tasting innocent
on his tongue. I followed his twist
over my wrist, the simple movement
like memory, so steady the snake’s body
trickled like mist pooling on leaves.

We turn the page in the picture book –
eagles, owls, cranes, flamingos, doves –
celebrate the birds of peace, strength, paradise
who cast their shadows on the earth
and dive, snatch the snake from wild grasses,
smooth path trailing away from a tree,
a corner of the garden stolen, hunger satisfied.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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