It was hot and sticky that August afternoon Charlie’s pet snake Ophelia ate the gator
in big gulps, scales rippling evilly over the muscles of her throat.
The sawgrass rustled, asking, curious—
the snake was the same color as the grass, you see, and so except for the glittering
cold little eyes, the gator was disappearing head
first into the brown Cyprus trees.
The mosquitoes sang a dirge above our heads, a floating pinprick of a chorus,
teasing J-Dog’s quivering flesh, slipping down the wide shiny eucalyptus leaves and
finally as the storm came in sneaking away to wherever it is
mosquitoes sneak away to when the rain comes.
The driver’s side window in the truck was stuck half-way down, and
out through it we could see
the last few bites of alligator tail disappear into Ophelia’s yawning pink mouth.
I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the low gray clouds, pressing down
against the earth and the sky
was a strip of Payne’s grey bound
on the top by the storm, and the bottom
by the river of grass flowing before behind and through us.