24 inches head to tail, the snake
camouflaged in leafy detritus was couched
in the shadow of a looming hemlock.
Eye met eye and I was held for
moments by what seemed intelligence,
frightening in its mythic associations
circling my head like deerflies in July.
I broke off focus and walked away.
I’d been stared down but didn’t mind,
refocused as I was on the sunlit road ahead.