THE BLUE SNAKE
The snake winds through your head
into the temple which stands on a hill
and is not much visited now.
Toppled stones clutter the paving
where the blue snake swims towards you,
dry in the dry air,
blue as a vein or a fading bruise.
It looks at you from the side of its head
as snakes do. It flickers.
What does it know
that it needs to tell you?
What do you need to be told?
You are surprised to hear it speak.
It has the voice of a flute
when you first blow into it,
long and breathless; it has an old voice,
like the blue stars, liked the unborn,
the voice of things beginning and ceasing.
As you listen, you grow heavier.
It asks you why you are here,
and you can't answer.
It begins to glow,
it's almost transparent now,
you can see the spine
with its many pairs of delicate ribs
unrolling like a feather.
This has gone far enough,
you think, and turn away.
It isn't what you came for.
Behind you the snake dissolves
and flows into the rock.
On the plain below you is a river
you know you must follow home.
from her collection Interlunar, first published by Jonathan Cape Ltd in 1988
Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic with aerial support by Lighthawk
with Saturday, Ocean Creek
a spatially vast and haunting poem by Fred D'Aguiar
"Sometimes the morning shakes itself from its moorings
To this world and lifts skywards with a fighter jet's roar,
Everyone lucky enough to be up and about looks to the east. . . "
(Belinda has - lucky us - posted a second Fred D'Aguiar poem on her blog. The Rose of Toulouse and Saturday, Ocean Creek exhort me to look at familiar things differently.
For more Tuesday Poetry - a whole lot more - please click on the quill.