Dead Snake on the Track

by John Grey

My mother never ventured far from the edge of the swamp. 
Nor did I. 
She was three and a half foot long, 
undulated shiny and black, 
scraping the soil with her red belly. 
That became my own method  
of getting where I needed to be. 
Her mid-body scales formed seventeen rows, 
subcaudals single anteriorly, divided posteriorly. 
No surprise then that mine were exactly the same. 
I never knew my father. 
He could have been the one nestled in the hollow log, 
or gliding through the mangroves, 
or engaged in writhing combat  
with another of his kind. 
My mother dined on frogs and rats. 
Same menu for me then. 
But she devoured a cane toad, died of its poison. 
So I avoided those hideous creatures. 
Man too  
until one crushed my skull 
with a tree-branch,
left me to die on a brush track  
in the outer suburbs of the city. 
He saw in me  
the embodiment of Original Sin. 
My view of him 
was purely circumstantial.