Back Then

My grandmother hated snakes.
No,
she loathed them.
Bad memories from the farm,
I guess.

Grandfather.
No, I can’t say he liked snakes.
I never heard him say,
but he liked a good game.

Grandmother left the pet store
stark white and screaming.
One arm raised and flailing,
the other clutching her purse,
like someone had tried to steal it.
She ducked imaginary objects
and begged Grandfather,
“Unlock the car, Chet.”

Grandfather did not comply;
he couldn’t.
Grandfather sat down on the curb,
slapping the concrete with one hand,
and laughed,
sides clutched,
’til his top row of teeth dropped down.

Nichole M. Dulin

1996

snake

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