Nebraska Center for Writers

by Teri Youmans Grimm

Even snakes tremble in this land of trembling
earth where cloaked in the Okefenokee

a man stands on an alligator's back and prays
it is a dream. His or another's.

He knows, a foot lifts off — a heel strays just a bit
and the stupefied is supper. The alligator

doesn't move a breath, and the man wonders
if he's sleeping. It doesn't matter; the hand's

been dealt; an alligator's eyelids are windows,
and the man wears an alligator belt.

Frogs' throated dirge, the whir
and thrum of insects quarrel in

the man's ears, beat his drums until he's
dizzy. It's curious, his thoughts don't run

to a wife, grandbabies, what's left undone.
Instead he thinks of alligators

that climb ladders then swoosh belly down
a slide, one after another, glide into a pool

at a roadside reptile playground. Eyes
devoid of joy, despite the frolic. Like exotic

dancers, the man remembers. It's best
to ignore their gaze, sluggish and bored.

Reprinted with permission
from The Connecticut Review, Fall 2003, XXV: 2
Copyright © 2003
by Teri Youmans Grimm

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