Among the Orchids
For a few weeks in 1970,
Bubba ruled our Tampa neighborhood.
No metaphor for gangs
or the Mob,
though they were there too,
Bubba was an 5-foot alligator.
Children stayed in their houses.
And Señora Rodriguez swore Bubba
Ate her cotton Lyle drawers off the clothesline.
Her grandson, Hector, got Bubba tattooed on his left butt cheek,
but she pretended not to know that.
My herpetologist (husband) professed scorn,
and teased his grandmother in excellent Spanish.
A friend grew orchids.
You might ask how passions for snakes
and orchids go together.
Snakes being all phallic
Well they aren’t exactly modest, are they?
A sudden freeze sent us scurrying to move the orchids in
among the cobras, the Mohave diamond back,
a variety of spiders,
and the yellow-fronted Amazon parrot.
But Bubba waited in the cooling green house
starting to chill but still alert
Bonnie and I retreated to warmth and home brew.
The guys drank in the yard
wondering how to capture Bubba.
It went to 18 that night.
Sayers lost his orchids
But the next day Señora Rodriguez
hung up new drawers in the warm sun.
After a few years among the urban wildlife of Tampa, Florida, Cher Holt-Fortin retreated to the north. There she quilts and watches birds on the edge of farm country. No alligators, just the occasional coyote.