Coral Snake

Because in her neck of Florida, she wasn’t raised
on tornado drills or water moccasins 
             but instead on hurricane precaution 
                          and how to kill
             coral snakes.  
                                        In some sense, 
             because she’d been waiting forever to spy
those thick-banded stripes of coral, yellow,
black, the slideshows in elementary school, 
            the legends.
                                       Because it was dark, 
a late dinner charring on the grill, 
            and she’d gone to check 
                          if the blood had gone
                          out of the burgers and 
                          beneath the faint moon
            a flash of slick midnight skin slithered
                          in the garage’s shadow, shy,
            she snatched whatever 
                          was nearest—
                                                    wasp spray—
            aimed and drained the can, 
            the snake stunned
            into eerie stillness, and 		
            with the shovel held high, she severed
                                                    its head. 
                         And only then,
her heart rate and breathing uncoiling,
the stripes revealed not yellow but white,
the head not black but scarlet, 
                                                    and she shook 
            from that 
            other poison	            that blinds			
                         in single, certain sight—
            to see what she wanted to see,
				                                         	dead set
                                             on being right.