I walk so early, these hot days, past penitent,
still-folded daylilies, who hold their floral
stems outstretched to where the sun will show
itself next, past robins sparring for land rights,
empty rentals soon to fill with families,
creek beds almost empty until after a downpour
later in the day.
I stop near the end of my walk
(just before the uphill leg) to sit
on Max’s dock and gaze out, waiting
for poems to come. So still today – no breezes
moving air or water. I see a small
dot gliding along on the lake’s surface.
I watch carefully: it is not a poem, nor a muskrat’s
snout, nor a diving duck coming up for air.
A water snake, not so big, maybe
a foot long if it were straightened out. It is never
straight, though, but like a constantly shifting sine
wave, its entire body winding from side
to side at a quiet pace, not hurried, raising
no foaming wake or embossed ripples, just the nose
With my cell, I video its journey
and stand to follow it as it comes close to the dock,
stops to lick the air with vibrating tongue.
Despite my aversion, I am spellbound, staring, noticing
its green and brown bands, its lazily
floating tail. Then it sees me, and when
I take a noisy step closer, squeaking on the boards,
it withdraws into cooler shadows in the water below me.