When I saw the brown snake
lift its wedge-shaped head
from the grass, I picked up
a stone and threw it without
really aiming. I don’t even
know what kind of snake it was,
harmless or poisonous, but
it died instantly all the same.
I had just turned 12, and a bunch
of us guys had gone camping
overnight alongside the Delaware.
The snake was already losing shape
as we got back in our canoes
that morning and pushed off
into the river and, with the sun
in our eyes, blindly paddled away.
Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press).