John Grey: “Crossing Over into the Land of Rattlesnakes”

Crossing Over into the Land of Rattlesnakes

She looked out over the hot Texas scrub plain,
its cruel footing of knotted roots, jagged rocks.
gopher holes, dry creek beds, maybe a rattle-snake or two.
Even without taking a step, she could feel herself falling.

She’d crossed the border, struggled to feel triumphant.
But the border patrol could sniff her out at any moment.
They were part of the invisible, encroaching terrain.
She’d come for safety but safety wasn’t safe.

What were her last words when she left her home?
Something about a better life. Not sorer feet.
Not burning thirst and brow shining with sweat.
Not a tear in her dress just below the knee.

In her mind stretched the future’s landscape.
It was no different than the one she saw before her.
Except the rattle-snakes were out there in their numbers.
She could hear the rattle. The hiss of venom to come.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East, and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review, and North Dakota Quarterly.  

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