Home > Animals in the City > Rattlesnake Bites Man in Walmart Garden Center

Rattlesnake Bites Man in Walmart Garden Center

May 13, 2013

by Laura Shovan

He thought it was a stick lying on the mulch.
His fingers grasped what he thought was wood,
but too giving. A moment of cool, relaxed flesh.
A moment of muscles in reaction.
The startled rattler bit him — surprised
as the man to find itself at Walmart.
With his work boots, he tap danced
on the four buttons of its rattle, its sticky backbone
no longer than a school-child’s plastic ruler.
Officials reviewed security camera footage
to see how the snake could have got there,
but called it an isolated incident of nature.
Six vials of anti-venom and a diapering
of bandages. It’s the only treatment.
Forget cutting the bite open and sucking out
the venom with your hungry lips.
One bite, my fellow shopper,
and we are back to Eden.


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Editor of Little Patuxent Review, Laura Shovan (website) was a finalist for the 2012 Rita Dove Poetry Award. Her chapbook Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone won the 2009 Harriss Poetry Prize. She edited Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems and co-edited Voices Fly: An Anthology of Exercises and Poems from the Maryland State Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Program, for which she teaches.

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  1. May 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    What struck me about this poem was the last two lines — tying the snake back to the apple in Eden. What a shock to find such a creature at Wal-Mart. I’ll be careful about picking up rogue sticks.

    -Nicole

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