[previous] [next] [more by this author] [home]
If Snakes Were Blue
Robert Penn Warren

If snakes were blue, it was the kind of day
That would uncoil in a luxurious ease
As each mica-bright scale exposed a flange of gold,
And slowly, slowly, the golden eyes blinked.

It was the kind of day that takes forever—
As though minutes, minutes, could never be counted—to slide
Among the clouds like pink lily-pads floating
In a crystal liquid pure enough to drink.

And there was no distinction now between
Light and shadow except the mystic and faint
Sense of adaptation of the iris,
As light diminished and the first star shone,

And the last veery, hidden in a thicket of alder,
Thought it would break its heart perhaps—or yours.
Let it be yours, then. For such gentle breaking
In that ambiguous moment could not be

Less than a blessing, or the king of promise
We give ourselves in childhood when first dawn
Makes curtains go gold, and all night's dreams flood back.
They had guaranteed our happiness forever.

And in such a way promises come true
In spite of all our evil days and ways.
True, few fulfillments—but look! In the distance lift peaks
Of glittering white above the wrath-torn land.

[previous] [next] [more by this author] [home]