(After the woodcut print by Escher)
I. In the winter forests of Cymru,
blackened hills, skeleton trees,
I remember thinking once I’d seen
an adder’s garnet eye gleam
like a dark apple in moss
on a dusk-cloaked yew,
its scales chromed like chainmail
caught by the midnight moon.
II. The legend of Shahmaran
from the Kurdish mountains tells
of a snake goddess who lies
in a honeyed well-
divine, wise, a vision of beauty,
her flesh an elixir for immortality.
III. I am told,
where I now stand,
serpent is God of water and
before time, beneath orange clay,
the sleeping rainbow serpent lay
until, like lava, he emerged
casting rivers, mountains & streams,
eyes open in sleep;
a meandering, wakeful dream.
Here, the rains leave rainbows-
endless conduit to weave
paths from one watering hole to another,
renewing the parched ground
in the tumult of mid-summer.
IV. Snakes shed precious skin under golden sun;
an endless cycle, the vital constancy of change.