HomeSouthern VoiceThey curve like snakes

They curve like snakes

by David Alexander McFarland

They look like old dead snakes that might come out
to lie on grass to die–not in some decent
hiding place. Brown twists that curl and give a start
of sudden moves but never move across
the tops of grass but falling when the wind
shakes up the hill. The old catalpa trees
are dirty trees, a nasty tree that litters
streets and yards with pseudo-snakes that cause
a stop a freeze to seize myself to see
that curve, a little spasm in adrenaline
to surge towards my feet, to make me run
to run before I see the curve is not
a movement after all but just a cracking
silent fibrous husk that once had been
so green: a snake-like long enough to have
that flickering tongue to taste the air while searching
out another meal. The seeds do that,
the growing up in flower beds, in lawns,
in cracks of sidewalks, anywhere a little soil,
the chance at life, a solitary life
that cares not where its seeds may go but that
they grow up and compete for light and air and rain,
for age that grows and twists the trunks.
They curve like old snakes in my lawn
to scare me in a senseless moment,
when I am not thinking where
my feet might go or how it is to find
a twisting moving shadow through the grass
as frightened as me but safe and gone
before I have the chance to find myself.


David Alexander McFarland grew up in north Alabama and lived in Huntsville for several years before going off to Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has lived in the Midwest ever since. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in Coe Review, Southern Humanities Review, Mississippi Review and Painted Bride Quarterly. Two poems were published last summer in Poem. Read his previous poem published in Deep South here

Spring Poem
The Pride of Souther