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Draft from the Matilija
Down off the burnt-off slope
for a drink, the big snake
Stops me on my way
home at mid-day
To responsibilities (miles from here
in what is, for the U.S.,
A well-built little city) -- how
quietly he lies,
In slow, slack curves, broken
by shadow, among three rocks,
Lowering his chin daintily
to the Matilija.
Having paused to judge of me
by tonguing the air,
He resumes drinking now,
letting down and lifting
His U-shaped, thin, fl at jaw.
On and on he drinks, taking
A very little at a time,
Slaking the whole length
of his thirst.