Where he comes from, no one knows
But here he rests awhile
Drinking at the water's edge
Of the calm and peaceful Nile.
Overcome with quenchless thirst
He shows his hooded fangs
As over the carob's shady boughs
His soft green body hangs.
His tongue laps water greedily
Too lazy to exert
The muscles of his body
He lies almost inert.
Then slithers warily, bit by bit
As slowly down he toils
And onto the great sandy grit
He lands in endless coils.
The sun reflects his shining scales
Convulsed as in great pain
As he wriggles under rush and grass
Hiding his slimy frame.
A mass of writhing slackness curls
Upon the sandy shore
His tongue flicks out just like a dart
A spectacle of awe.
Hissing like a demon devil
His mottled skin in haste to go
Always writhing, wriggling, sliding
His hateful eyes aglow.
Sometimes he creeps with stealthy glide
Through desert grasses high
But now, just basking in the sun
This desert reptile lies.
For such a puny little creature
With eyes like reddened flame
I never saw a thing so loathsome
And trust I shan't again!
(written in 1963 after reading D.H. Laurence's "The Snake")
(c) Poet in the woods 2013