Green Snake

Leila Lois


Leila Lois is a woman of Kurdish and Celtic heritage who has lived most of her life in Aotearoa. Her Kurdish ancestors fled oppression in Iraq in the seventies and her parents moved from London to Aotearoa soon after she was born. She has been living on Kulin land / Melbourne since 2018, working as a dance educator during the day and practising choreography and writing in her free time. In her poems, Leila explores a personal sense of origin that, like the ocean, binds several landscapes and times, coming back to the idea that a timeless, boundless love pervades. Her publishing history includes Southerly Journal, Djed Press, Delving Into

Dance and Salient.


(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

or berries

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.