Today's poem is by Greg Pape

Image on a Sandstone Disk
Moundville, Alabama

Snakes conjured up
      through the ripples,
            convolutions, and sleek passages

of the new brain
      from the old.

with fangs,
      forked tongues, rattles
            and horns.

Two snakes
      tied together in two knots,
            heads to tails.

In the circle they make
      an open eye
            in an open palm.

The meaning is lost,
      they say. Read this image,
            symbol of an old human community,

know you are guessing,
      reading with the wrong eyes.
            Read it anyway.

The snakes are power,
      the knots, restraint,
            an image of fear

and force,
      not overcome, but contained—
            a fire

they danced around,
      and sang.
            The eye in the palm

is the gift of vision.
      It says
            we all belong.

See the circle
      and the fire, hear
            the drum

and the turning of an old human song,
      close and far away
            like a river,

its rocky hum and weedy sway,
      a river we stand in
            and is gone.

Copyright © 2005 Greg Pape All rights reserved
from American Flamingo
Southern Illinois University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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