A Summertime Picnic

The afternoon is sultry, as July days are wont to be,
but, lying here in deep shade, he is contented, as anyone can see.

Their blanket spread beside the shady brook,
his wife beside him reading her book,
their noontime hunger satiated by their picnic lunch,
sleepiness has begun to close his eyes...”Daddy, come look.”

The call from his young daughter wading in the brook
calls his mind back to alertness. Their dog begins to bark.
“Maybe you should put the dog back on his leash.
He’s not supposed to go unrestrained in a state park.”

“That dog’s so old that he isn’t going to bother anyone.”
He rises, looks down to see his daughter standing mid-stream,
holding up a shiny rock for him to see. Behind her a large stick
is floating toward her. It contorts in serpentine fashion. His scream

“Snake!” brings a look of surprise, then horror to her sweet face.
Heart beating wildly, he watches the snake open its mouth to bite.
Knowing he is too far away to save her, helplessness and panic
overwhelm....A blur comes sailing through the air, landing right

on top of the snake. He scoops up his daughter, carrying her to
safety, as amidst great splashing, the dog violently whips the snake
through the air. He and his wife hurriedly check the girl for bites,
finding none. Back at brook’s bank, there is no action left to take.

The bloody, lifeless snake is carried away by the current;
the dog now crawls up onto the bank. “Good boy! Good boy!
You sure showed that snake who’s boss. Look at all his blood.”
Then stark reality delivers dread to displace his joy.

Blood covering the dog’s mouth and neck is from snake bites,
venom already taking effect. “You two need to go and try
to bring back a park ranger with anti-venom.” They drive away.
It is best the young daughter not have to watch the dog die,
nor have the lifelong memory of her father’s sorrowful cry...

Harry Edward Gilleland      07.09.02