Snakes Alive

I saw a crow speak in tongues
to a snake at the fork in the road
by the baker’s shop on Wednesday morning.
I knew it was Wednesday because
the night before Gran had gone to bingo.
The snake eyed the crow with respect,
tasted the air with a flick, then a hiss,
and nodded slowly. Gran hadn’t won
but had been two away from a full house—
twice apparently. The crow flapped
its wings against the warm July sun
and called a friend high on the rooftops.
Never really understood the thrill myself
of bingo, legs eleven doesn’t fit my Gran at all,
she’s five foot two. The bird above
joined the others at the fork in the road
and it spoke too, I couldn’t make out
the words. I tried to call my Gran. My tongue
was tied. No sound came. None at all.
The two crows lifted off in unison,
the snake shrank into the shadows,
the bell of the baker’s door rang through the quiet
of the morning street and out came Gran
with a two pound loaf, eccles cakes
for lunch, and just like the night before—
she missed the jackpot by a whisker.

© Robert Harper 2014

First appeared in The Interpreter’s House issue 56, reprinted by kind permission of the editor Martin Malone.


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