The Rattle on the Tail of Things
"Navajo Nation Wetland" by David Wolfersberger
gallup, new meixco • searching in moonlit darkness for a suitable campsite i nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. kindle he-she rose up cobra-like and hissed and rattled so i could see him-her and avoid collision, but he-she didn't strike me though he-she could've done. 8am new mexico 14 july, a navajo nation wetland.
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.