New Harmony

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Hideo and the Fox Farm

“Hideo and the Fox Farm” © 2011 by Jane Shoenfeld
From the sky a person can see
that the mammoth curving mound of grassy
earth is formed into a giant snake.
It lies not far from restored ruins
of the pious Harmonists’ colony
founded amidst the Shawnee
inheritors of this serpent mound.

Today a Frontier Festival — pumpkin-laden
wagons, tables of crafts and jellies
proffered by bonneted women, a rumbling
butter churn, men costumed as pioneers
in a booth selling hard cider.

Among these legs and high spirits
from the woods has slithered
a black beauty of a rat snake,
a horse of a snake six feet long
intent on passing through,
slowing to traverse the confusion.

When people grasp it’s not a fake,
shrieks rise with dogs’ hackles.
Boys start looking for rocks.

As Harmonists had prayed to fold
their fate into the Oversoul,
their Shawnee neighbors’ uprising
had been crushed by swarming settlers.

At this day’s fete the serpent raises its head
to taste the nervous air and some hero
runs to his pickup for his rifle

when this Hester of a woman stoops
to gather the snake to her breast,
conveying her calm as it coils round
her arms and trunk and lets her trudge
with the weight of their fear
all the way down to the woods,
kneeling to let this part of her

slide back to the earth.

after Lisa Couturier’s “The Hopes of Snakes”

Published in Quiddity

reprinted in Algonquins Planted Salmon, Red Mountain Press