Fashioned by local conditions.

A sudden insight in Venezuela.

Young Anaconda

‘Take the snake’ he said
both wrists cuffed by the writhing coils.
He had picked it from the drying mud
to move it to a damper safety.
I didn’t move, although the snake was small
it offered no obvious handhold,
and its fangs had found his hand,
deep behind the thumb.
‘Take the snake,’ with a tone of entreaty
he proffered it to the driver and his helper
at whose violent laughter the young anaconda
flexed and twisted the manacles.
Amidst this raucous wild response
the words blurted from me:
‘It’s biting him!’

A slowly writhing snake
and silence.

The driver rolled up his sleeve,
to bare scars like a learner’s tapestry
of thick uneven stitches, not to be left out
his mate pulled up a trouser leg
unveiling jagged ornamentation, livid
as if fresh from a blacksmith’s forge.

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