I am who nature needed me to be.
a nomadic misfit living outdoors,
perpetually hungry until I
was claimed by water and earth.
The rain came
and pelted the path before me,
ushering me to a rising river,
gifting me with gills and fangs
before it spilled into a swamp
and washed the soil away
from the banks like dishes.
I love a clean plate.
Now I have a home. A family.
And I am never hungry.
I lick the Spanish moss that hangs
from branches of bald cypress trees,
and practice my ever-sharpening instincts
with the water moccasins
that wind down the tree trunks.
I scavenge old carcasses and plant remains
with pygmy sunfishes to keep our land
nutritionally dense, so it thrives.
I am part of a delicate ecosystem.
I’m warming myself on a rock,
snacking on a diving beetle
when I feel a vibration
racing through the wetlands
and the water ripples with distress.
A mechanical, man-made sound,
from a world I almost forgotten
finds its way back to me.
The threat crawls down
my back like a careful spider.
stamp into the soil and kick up
fresh green moss carpets
and turn over nurse logs
that were mothering new seedlings.
I am who nature needs me to be.
The glands in my tail give off
a foul odor of suspense
that stops him in his tracks.
I coil up, fangs protracted,