Who cares if the worshiper holding the snake lives or dies. Everyone swoons under the spell.
No one’s milked the venom from the snakes’ fangs. Only more snakes slither in the basket.
One at a time, I say. Praise fills the conical shape of the room as it ascends to God’s heaven.
I am not here. I am looking on with you. Those people lived with my father’s people. Yes,
they believed if the fangs ejected their poison into your blood, you were damned. You died.
If the snakes permitted you passage until the sun broke through the sky, you were saved.
Who cares walks like an angel through the door in his white robes and long black beard.
Who else could he be? The parishioners throw their clothes over the baskets of snakes.
Women and men wanting to be with this man now that the holy rapture has arrived.
Notice how the light is brighter now. The children keep their clothes on. They abandon
the church, running to play in the leaves before the snow begins to fall over the mountains.
Their fathers and mothers are climbing the rays of light that take them as high as it will go.
Who cares who’s left measuring distance between his feet and a century disappearing.
He releases the snakes. They disappear among the undergrowth. Only the village is left.
Suffice to say he’s not been here before. Why else would he choose the town’s only church?
He wants to lie with a woman before he goes. There is one he sees. She languishes, waiting.
"Father would cast me down so far I would never see him again among our choirs of angels."
Thus he fears what others believe should never be feared, yet they’ve only heard stories.
He walks to the woman and permits her to slide her body against his as she rises in the pew.
She feels naked under her thin dress that is all that’s keeping him safe for salvation’s purity.
She takes him behind the altar and prepares him for the loss of childhood’s last remnant.
He is spent before she can enjoy him. He wants to sleep now. She goes about her errands.
You knew there would be at least one woman in this town cloistered by the mountains
who would dare to discover what no one had ever imagined, let alone seen through an eye
that looks down on the leaf-strewn village with all its children happy their sires are gone,
flocking after the woman whose thin dress tempts the only man in town to follow, follow.
Snakes are everywhere but not here, the leaves strewn in many colors. Sky opens its dome
and down it comes, cold air plucked from earth and delivered by the always white angels.
(9 October 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander