The early summer swing of a bladeAgainst brier must not trifle with theWiggling ink of a surprised black snake.Its body will quake as it sings throughThe thicket, loops itself through the riskyPuzzle of sapling branch and shivers its tailIn the dead leaves to mimic a timber rattle.A ferocious deceit, enough to make a manCircle back with machete on guard.
But this was mere challenge to you, Brave One,Lion of the lawn, Ajax of the alleyway.Felis catus, bearing your god’s nameWith thunderous fare, wrath ruffling yourEyes and fur as you sprang to ancient war,Outdoing machete’s steel with quickTined claws, measuring yourself againstThe serpent’s fretted strike. Defeat for himWas written in that morning’s haruspicy,His flight foretold in the curled tendonsOf your Friskies dish. [End Page 73]
Charles Dodd White was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew up in both the city and the woods. He has been a Marine, a fishing guide, and a journalist. The recepient of the Jean Ritchie Fellowship, he is the author of the novels A Shelter of Others and Lambs of Men, the short story collection Sinners of Sanction County, and co-editor of the contemporary Appalachian short story anthology Degrees of Separation. He currently lives in Candler, North Carolina.