In Poems

When it dived, the dabchick, I ran towards

the swamp, wanting to get closer to see better

before the bird surfaced and saw me—

I sprinted towards the swamp, my eyes

on the black hole in the bright-light-green

weed-covered water where the dabchick had dived—

and running I was not looking at the ground

I was treading and trod within a fraction

of a snake, a tiger snake—big, black-backed

and lightly banded from the orange belly—

by my foot it flicked up,

reared up like a jack jarred from its box,

sprang up and flattened its head

in fear and fury, flattened its face

like a little-hooded cobra charmed

from its basking by the pipe of my leg—

and I staggered off balance like a top

struck while spinning—I stumbled back

expecting through the long seconds

the twin pinholes of poison, oh

expecting—but it teetered, turned, tumbled

down and trickled into the rushes

away from me—and I think, I like to think

an angel, my angel, the angel assigned to me

stepped in to stop the snake from striking me!


          “Snake with Angel” © Andrew Lansdown


From Waking and Always, a collection of poems by Andrew Lansdown published by Collins/Angus & Robertson in 1987.
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