Karen J. Weyant
TO THE YOUNGEST GIRL AT THE RATTLESNAKE ROUNDUP
There's hamburgers and hotdogs and the hiss
of outdoor grills and grease. Bodies slither,
tails shake, you listen for the dry hush of a rattle.
Burlap bags drag, scrape the ground, bounce.
Hands of men push you aside. You see are thighs
of jeans stained with mud, belt buckles that catch
the sharp glint of the sun. This is for grownups, honey.
The voice is full of gravel and smoke.
They don't know that you have practiced all summer.
Thin sticks looped milk snakes into the air,
tips of your sandals kicked garter snakes in little league fields.
Even the pairs of your mother's limp pantyhose
were game, nylon snagged and tangled in your baton.
You push through the crowd, curl your fingers
around a metal fence, watch rough hands
and a quick snag of a snake. The air quivers.
You have just turned five, go to junior church in place
of regular service. You know the garden of Eden,
have seen pictures of Eve. When she tilts her head
up towards the serpent, she is always smiling.
Karen J. Weyant's work can be read in 5AM, the Barn Owl Review, Cave Wall, Conte, Copper Nickel, The Sugar House Review and River Styx. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Stealing Dust (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt (Winner of Main Street Rag's 2011 Chapbook Contest). Her poem, "The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees" was included in Sundress Publications' 2011 Best of the Net Anthology. She lives and writes in rural Pennsylvania but teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.