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Scaly Horror | by Lynn Morag
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Scaly Horror

"On the summer road that ran by our front porch

Lizards and snakes came out to sun.

It was hot as a stove out there, enough to scorch

A buzzard's foot. Still, it was fun

To lie in the dust and spy on them. Near but remote,

They snoozed in the carriage ruts, a smile

In the set of the jaw, a fierce pulse in the throat

Working away like Jack Doyle's after he'd run the mile.


Aunt Martha had an unfair prejudice

Against them (as well as being cold

Toward bats.) She was pretty inflexible in this,

Being a spinster and all, and old.

So we used to slip them into her knitting box.

In the evening she'd bring in things to mend

And a nice surprise would slide out from under the socks.

It broadened her life, as Joe said. Joe was my friend.


But we never did it again after the day

Of the big wind when you could hear the trees

Creak like rocking chairs. She was looking away

Off, and kept saying, "Sweet Jesus, please

Don't let him near me. He's as like as twins.

He can crack us like lice with his fingernail.

I can see him plain as a pikestaff. Look how he grins

And swings the scaly horror of his folded tail."


~ Anthony Hecht, 1923-2004 ~

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Taken on July 21, 2011