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After the Rattler's Visit

by Rick Campbell

This dry morning
the ground is sinister.
I wait for its rattle,

for the monkey grass
to part like a redfish
stalks pilchards in the flat.

Canebreak, wedgehead yellow,
big as a serving spoon,
diamonds brown as earth.

I cannot think of love today.
Five dogs walk the rattler’s path
and my world beset with danger.

It’s rash to walk the trail,
to rasp and rattle to the creek.
I want it dead.

I see it moving, sometimes
stretched straight, then serpentine.
It coils, about to strike.

Under the back porch, it
rises toward the deck
where we are supposed to be safe.

When it comes again, whispering,
I will not understand its tongue.