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On a Hillside
There's a movement, and a snake suddenly underfoot
sliding in the heat, through the dry tangle
Of brown grass and thistles, dead stalks
of wildfl owers. A California Kingsnake it is,
In plain view; he's entering the rock-pile
beside me, out on his rounds.
The fresh enamel gleam of the close-fi tted
scales unblurred by the dust
He goes upon, his bands of ivory and black,
crooked-edged, ride motionless
In his gliding. Now, fi ne-tapered tail-tip quivering
into thin air, he inches
Himself through a tight bend. Now
a three-inch section of him shows
At an opening, the bands like box-cars
travelling past steadily.