by Tyler Bigney
My mother taught me about death
when I was five. I was hiding in the long grass
watching her, as she hoed the garden and picked out
the rocks that strewed the ground.
I stood studying a long green snake
that lay at my feet. It had
bright yellow eyes and
a shiny red tongue that lashed furiously
when I ran my finger along its back.
I picked it up, and holding it in my hands,
I walked over to my mother.
“Look,” I said, dropping the snake
at her feet. “I found it in the grass over there.”
She screamed and she raised the hoe
high above her head, bringing it down
on the snake, chopping him in half.
I cried out, picking up the pieces and running
over to the long grass. I threw away the tail
and shoved the head in my pocket.
I placed it inside the top drawer of my dresser,
next to the hockey cards and my sister’s crayons,
staring at it, unable to believe that my mother
could do such a thing.
Twenty two years later, I can still feel
the long grass against my bare legs
and the sun as it blistered the back of my neck.
And the chill that traversed
down the length of my spine that day