I had survived how many summers? Five?
Six? 'til, self-taught, I learned at last
of terror that lurks in situations
which those I trust (myself included)
would swear offer only perfect safety...
My ball rolled under my Grandma's house
and I, well-guarded, scuttled after to retrieve it,
mindless of the tarry soil fleeced with fluffy,
small red feathers, newly molted by matrons:
hens that clucked contentment,
set upon their hidden egg troves.
Spying their nests, I thought to rob them
and so earn a Grandma's love for a city boy
unversed in country ways. Thinking, I acted,
reaching for a nest unoccupied,
half hid behind a house block.
I closed my soft, expectant hand
upon a wriggling creature coiled among the eggs,
drew back like lightning to watch
a brightly spotted snake slide off
into the farther, deeper darkness
amid a squall of squawks.
Emerging empty handed, terrified,
it wasn't Grandma's love I earned that day.
I have always since encountered similar brilliant colored
dangers whenever I have thought to grab,
for myself or others, unclaimed treasures
in strange places, in warmer or in cooler weathers.