Adam and the Serpent

by Donna J. Long

So you were born
short, stout, wingless,
someone for whom fight
or flight was canceled
by a genetic cog
whose wheel was yet
to be invented.  Looking
for your likeness you
learned to pray, to praise,
even to name promised
too little.  In one fit
of survivor’s guilt you
spent hours grazing
shelves, resolved to
revise your own field
guide, to lay blame
when the kildeer’s cry
failed to thin the herd.  You began
to take in strays for a night’s
pleasure to spite the ache
of your self-centering.  You,
who longed to live in a gentle
wood but lacked bamboo’s
energy, desired an unruly
garden but managed in-
stead to invent the fence.