Driving home, I ran over a bull snake
and tore it into three pieces.
I didn’t mean to kill the thing.
I’d thought it was the thin shadow
of a telephone pole stretched across the road.
I realized it was a snake
only after I’d run it over
that’s the percussion
of car tires and snakes.
After I ran it over, I stopped,
left the car idling,
and walked back
to the three pieces of snake.
Always get the last word.
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In death-shock, the head and tail
against the pavement
that had been its warm rock.
The middle piece, strange
and disconnected, did not move.
I said a prayer
to the Snake God,
and wondered if such a god exists.
If the Snake God does exist,
then it is likely the same
as every other god—
I didn’t want the snake’s body to be insulted
by other cars and their drivers,
so I dragged the tail off the road to the west
and the head off the road to the east.
I could not touch the middle piece,
because it was flattened and gory.
Satisfied that I’d shown the snake
enough respect, I drove away.
But two miles up the road, I turned
around, and traveled back.
I don’t know if there is a Snake Heaven,
but I didn’t want the snake to suffer because of my doubts.
If the snake’s three pieces arrived separately in Heaven,
would any of them be able to find the others?
I dragged the tail and middle
across the road and laid them beside the head,
because snake + snake + snake = snake,
because any trinity can be holy.