• Fearsome Critters

Copperhead — Teresa Morse

In the wild summer grasses

near the lake, where we dropped lines

and I memorized the rhythm of the water

on the bobber,

we found it.

I felt its weight land

on my foot, pressing my laces,

an old rope that moved.

I think it’s a snake,

I probably said, and my dad leapt.

His bucket fell over as he spotted it

slithering through the grass, sleepy

and slow. It was hot.

He grabbed a stick, thick

like a truncheon, and hammered the snake

into the ground. And I watched dumb

as the broken snake, kinked like a hose,

flew through blue air and landed

in the water. My bobber bounced.

A miracle it didn’t bite you,

he said.

I frowned. It didn’t bite me.

For this, it died.