I don’t like my title. Oh well.
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.