My father pulls the diamondback from the oak hull, stretches it
to full length and laughs. The rattle
is pudgy, flesh-toned, like my brother’s bruised arm.
When he drives the pitchfork through the angular head,
lifts the snake, suddenly, into the air, it’s
a long slack ribbon, a gold muscular thread. Still,
the lush tapestry of its skin comes off like so much
dross, as though this shedding, too, were part
of its natural pattern – how it must have sifted
the oak’s husk, drawn light like a needle in its passing,
stitched a patch of air not unlike the dipping,
swaying arc of my father’s knife, the slow carving
of flesh from casing, venom and blood staining his gloves.
Strange, how the suture he tacks to the wall
resembles the fresh scar hemming my brother’s jaw:
scalloped edge of diamonds glinting in and out with the gutter
of the television: the same rough seam ripped open
again and again by his beveled fist.