Sunday, February 10, 2013

Always Meant to Meet Here


This morning I saw suddenly
on the road ahead of me
the moving question mark of a snake,
black thumb of a head lifted,
some ancient node within the dark hood
urging the long thin body forward,
sensing its way
through its slippery existence
as it had been doing since birth,
slithering toward our moment of intersection,
the swishing passage no longer hidden by grass
or the wet cover of leaves,
but its entire length visible now
in the pure daylight of this dilated second,

just as I had been moving toward it, too,
all my life,
in my own upright, warm-blooded way,
walking the long sidewalks, riding trains,
leaning on the railing of a ferry,
or as today, driving a country road,
which from the air would look like a snake itself
curling through the dense green woods.

No moment was given there
spacious enough
to brake or swerve within,
only time enough to keep my line,
hoping without hope,
knowing, as I needled through the instant,
that the two of us had always been meant to meet here,
my curved line crossing his
as on some unknowable graph
spread out on a vast table
under the glare of a hanging lamp
a relentless diagram,
millions of faint red lines
forming millions of tiny squares.

—Billy Collins, from Picnic, Lightning

Welcome, Year of the Snake.

image:  Fossil Snake

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