To the Snake, Anon

My reply to Jilly’s reply to the Denise Levertov poem, “To the Snake“. Full text in-line below.

 

To the Snake, Anon

Eat thine own tail, Ouroboros!
As I must eat my tale
and know we began only to end infinity,
leaving just our stories forever
twined, wrapped, twisted
as the caduceus we made in the forest,
our bower of staff and wings.

Would you shed me so easily?
Do you not taste of your venom?
Your lie forks your tongue
that such pleasure was not love,
the brush of our skin immortal.

My garden flowered with too much joy;
I cannot regret now
what I will bear alone.

 

The Snake’s Keening
by Jilly

Bright Girl, when you plucked me from
the grass and round your neck I hung
felt your seering warmth
and whispered in your ear the secrets
of a serpent’s curse
the weight of sin and shame I bare
wounded in your ears —

Bright Girl — I swore to my scaled children that certainly
you were sinless! But truly
I had no hope of ever passing your heel, only desire
and be held by you, for that thrill,
which bereft
of guilt, as the grass closed
behind me, and you with that dark
assurance in your eyes,
I shall never share.

 

To the Snake
by Denise Levertov

Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck
and stroked your cold, pulsing throat
as you hissed to me, glinting
arrowy gold scales, and I felt
the weight of you on my shoulders,
and the whispering silver of your dryness
sounded close at my ears —

Green Snake–I swore to my companions that certainly
you were harmless! But truly
I had no certainty, and no hope, only desiring
to hold you, for that joy,
which left
a long wake of pleasure, as the leaves moved
and you faded into the pattern
of grass and shadows, and I returned
smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.

30 thoughts on “To the Snake, Anon

  1. Ok, firstly, when I saw what you had set up, my laugh echoed off the ceiling! Extra points for that! These three poems together, born of Levertov (thanks to you), coil, recoil, uncoil in such a sinfully, slick way that I am dizzy. Your dive into mythology and word play are applauded. Ultimately, it is that ending with bitterness – the brush of our skin immortal – that goes to the core of your response. More here than I can even begin to comment on. I’m honored… and still laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was so much fun. I thought you would get a kick out of the rebound. Yours was so perfectly Levertov’s mirror, but try as I might I couldn’t keep that much poise. I had to drop the “Green Snake/Bright Girl” constructs in favor of confrontation.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.