These snakes down my arms are driving me mad,
Snaking down the backs of my hands
Ones that will sooner or later
Rise up to consume me I know:
Snakes that course without caring
Through the veins, through the heart.
Someday, mother, I tell you
These fat, slow serpents
Will rise up to disinter you.
Remember that fall in Newfoundland, mamá?
We courted each other
Eyes as hot as sin
You settling in my arms,
You hiding from the last sun;
You and the eyes of wonder
Courting the last winds before dying
Blowing the spray around like venom.
It must have been there in Newfoundland
On the beach, in the fall
That you and I finally curled up together
Like succulent babes,
Safe from the very wise
Snakes rafting in from the sea
Cross-currents of smoke and foam,
I seem to recall a certain night in late September.
Waves turning over with a fine precision
A turquoise light coming around again and again
And you declining my affections
With surprise, and thanks
And genuine regret.
That was to be the end of one love,
One that shaved the years off me, mom;
Trees you conjured out of the night, mom:
The absurd memory of you and me aground
On the cold wet sands
Of cold Newfoundland.
Can you ever forget our golden caduceus,
The night's fire pulling at me in anger,
And suddenly my teeth tearing at your breast?
The whole village that you had created,
Teetering on the fangs of our serpent,
The one you created out of sand and spit,
There on the edge of a rising storm,
There in lovely cold Newfoundland.--- © 1961 The Estate of
Francis S. Pickens