“It wasn’t just a snake, it was a rattler.”
Grandpa said with a shake of the shovel,
Over which the long body was draped
It wiggled, but the rattles made no sound
“They’re very aggressive.”
He tossed the aggressor’s body over the back fence,
The tall, wooden protector of neighbors from each other
made with posts, crossbeams, and slats
Milled from the trees, Cypress, I believe,
Cut down when most of the swamp was drained
Just like that, the snake was forgotten,
Now he was the neighbor’s problem

I wished I could have replied
With aha! insights I had yet to attain
I know you killed it for safety’s sake,
For Mom and Tiger and Sis and me
I know, too, that it was just a snake,
Who had a family who followed a scent trail
Blazed by countless ancestors
Who ate the rodents that invaded the silos
When the land grew wheat and corn
Then the crop became houses, the people provided
With papers proving, beyond written doubt,
That it was just a snake, who only knew one way home.

Tiger never got snakebit, bees got me twice
The fence is gone, Dad planted a hedge for me
there are houses all around, I’m the old-timer now
Who just killed a rattler with Grandpa’s shovel
And notified City Pest Control

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