The Nature of Vipers

I was born on the dark side
in the year of the snake.

When I slept coiled,
my knees grazed my chin.

As I grew, I sunned myself,
stretched in the arms of bad men.

I kissed the lips of cottonmouths,
sipped their venom and whiskey words.

The gossips said I shed skin after skin,
and tacked them on my bedroom walls.

Tales about me plumped with lies,
spread across back roads where I rested.

In the heat of August days, I savored
the true dangers of the raised rattle.

—Carol Carpenter, Livonia, MI