‘A Stranger In My Garden’
By Betty Laird
Eyes glinting, tongue flicking, he lies coiled
by my garden fence. The hairs on my neck
rise. How dare he invade my sanctuary?!
I did not invite him! Go away, Snake!
But, pupils glinting in the sun, he does not go.
A slit along his tail exposes oozing tissue.
A careless mower, perhaps? Or dropped
by an errant hawk, he has sought refuge
in my garden?
Refuge? No! Go away, Snake! Your slithering
presence is not wanted here, contaminating
my roses and sweet basil. But tongue-testing
the air for danger, he does not go.
So I leave him. He is no threat to me. In time,
we may become friends. He will catch
bugs. I will step cautiously. Perhaps God sent
him to me, to my tiny Eden. I feel, somehow, ...
dare I say it? ... privileged?
The snake has moved. He now lies beneath
my lavender, sheltered from the sun, head lifted
slightly. But wait! His eyes, no longer glinting,
are glazed. He is dead.
“No!” I cry. “This is not fair! I had accepted
him. He was mine!”
But he was God’s, and my sense of loss
— Betty Laird lives in Lawrence.