You Snake In The Grass!

Rain - lots and lots of heavy rain had fallen for
day after day, until finally this morning dawned
cloudless and sunny. The nearby bayou, before
stagnant, now runs briskly. The rain has spawned

squishy, straggly lawns of now calf-high grass.
The birds awakened hungry and eagerly flock
to my empty feeders. Ive neglected the task
of filling feeders. I remove my shoes and socks

to brave the wetness of my green swamp of a yard.
As I pour fresh seed into the closest bird feeder,
birds begin calling out notice to all that their hard
times are temporarily over - hes filling the feeders!

The yard is alive with sparrows, red-winged black birds,
mourning doves, cardinals, all hungrily waiting to eat.
Four feeders full, I head toward the last - my word! -
a blue jay, noisily squawking, lands directly at my feet.

He hops a few feet ahead of me, stops, waits, then flies
to land on the fence. Strange bird, I think. Suddenly, he
is flapping close in front of my face. Once again he tries
to make me stop walking. Hes sure acting crazy as can be.

He dives toward the ground intently, before returning
to his perch upon the fence. I pause. Suddenly, I see
there in the tall grass, precisely where Id be standing
to order to fill the last feeder, a four-foot long catastrophe.

I detect the ripple of muscles as the deadly snake
slithers half-hidden through the tall grass - a water
moccasin, poisonous and aggressive. Slowly I take
a few steps backwards, for I know what hes after.

His hopes for a tasty meal of unwary squirrel or bird
die when my shovel blade quickly strikes, beheading
this would-be killer. Now I know that it sounds absurd,
but I think that blue jay was intentionally set on saving
my life. I do know his actions I wont soon be forgetting.

Harry Edward Gilleland      06.29.03