Consider the rat snake returning
underground each year when the sun
lowers in the sky. Cursed to crawl
on its belly, he works his way
through roots of lilacs, to collapsed
caves, closer to the heat prepared
for the devil and his angels.
He follows the larva,
then three months later he emerges to watch
the butterfly's fragile legs ascend from
the chrysalis. Consider
the rat snake is an angel
waiting for his wings.
When drinking at the water trough,
the rat snake stops and muses
on the tadpoles aquatic metamorphosis.
He curses the dust.
He thinks his scales are beautiful,
but knows they make men shudder.
He can swallow his prey whole,
and bites to return an ancient favor.
He watches the cacada hang his futile skin
on a tree to spend the summer caroling.
In the heat the snake crawls from his skin
and wonders if this will be his seventh year.
Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.