(1976 / Sonoma, California)

Torn

Witness the wet dead snake,
its long hexagonal pattern weaved
around its body like a code for creation,
curled up cold on the newly tarred road.
Let us begin with the snake: the fact
of death, the poverty of place, of skin
and surface. See how the snake is cut
in two—its body divided from its brain.
Imagine now, how it moves still, both
sides, the tail dancing, the head dancing.
Believe it is the mother and the father.
Believe it is the mouth and the words.
Believe it is the sin and the sinner—
the tempting, the taking, the apple, the fall,
every one of us guilty, the story of us all.
But then return to the snake, poor dead
thing, forcefully denying the split of its being,
longing for life back as a whole, wanting
you to see it for what it is, something
that loves itself so much, it moves across
the boundaries of death, to touch itself
once more, to praise both divided sides
equally, as if it was almost easy.

by Ada Limón

Comments (3)

What a beautiful poem. I can see this snake and it’s personal mission—just brilliant.
the wet dead snake, its long hexagonal pattern weaved around its body like a code for creation, curled up cold on the newly tarred road. A typical new poem, very thought provoking.
Something! ! The wet dead snake. Nice piece of work.