Serpent Strike

My gloved hand grasps the prickly weeds
Anchored in the garden's rocky Ozark dirt.
Emerging feathered carrot sprouts overrun
with branching stalks of leaves filtering sunlight into shadows
Through shapes of darkness, shifting, moving forms.

At the moment's reach into an angle
Held open by rough hewn timbers
Kneeling down, crouching closer to this cavity,
I pluck another errant stem.

At the center is a sudden strange sting left in grip
Conspired by the beaded slit eyes through the pale rust copper hit,
Flat and wide and still, but for the flickering tongue,
Quickly sprung like a dart flick into flesh
To pin a burning spike Into a waxen candle tapered at the end,
turning darker while it melts.

The thought of light to move it forward
Shotgun blast cracked to echo at the end.

And then spring free in flight through tunnels to heal the pain.

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About the Author

Carol Perenchio lives in rural Eureka Springs with her husband Marty. A copperhead snake bit her finger as she was weeding carrots in their garden. A severe reaction prompted transport to an ICU, followed by hand surgery to remove necrosis and restore the tendons. This poem’s account captures her encounter with the copperhead.Dr. Perenchio returned afterwards to her job as a family practice nurse practitioner. She can still tie knots to suture wounds and can still weave cloth on her 3 floor looms.