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
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,
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,
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.