The Rattle on the Tail of Things

by Madronna Holden Issue: Spring 2019
I can do my poet’s best
to invoke the rattler’s lithe body
on the cooling sand—to pacify her
with her own beauty.

But we would still have to
watch where we step.

There would still be that rattle
on the tail of things
that shamans follow
into the less obvious reality
circling this one.

And there is still
that panic some men feel
in the face of wild beauty—
toughening their skins
against it as if they earned
all the world’s scars.

Like those who replaced living forest
with a stumped land
where no shadow longer
than their own might fall.

The cedar has no way to protect itself,
but old stories from the Columbia River
tell how the rich-fleshed salmon there
have a little of rattlesnake’s poison
in their bite to warn off fishermen
who would take too much.





Accompanying Image:

"Navajo Nation Wetland" by David Wolfersberger

Artist Statement: David Wolfersberger and his paintings are summer friends, sometimes seen walking the land as David feels and remembers it and wants it to be again, before fences, where people live and care for the earth and each other.

Madronna Holden