Black Snake

Black snake
Muscles her way up the post 
Tongue flicking 
Smelling bird eggs 

Pale blue
Yolks the color of sunshine 
Unsung notes 

She wraps around the box
Coiling her body inside
Until only the tip of her tail 
Peeks out  

Jaws unhinged 
She eats her fill 
Then backs out 
And slips away 

A circle of light 
Floods in the opening 
Warming an empty nest 

Mama bird 
Is winging home now 

To a new reality 

Yesterday morning, out on a walk, I watched a black snake coil into a nesting box, and I felt my heart sink. They must have still been eggs because no noise accompanied the snakes arrival. It seemed a wildly unfair match...unhatched eggs against a strong snake. 

Since most of my food comes from the grocery store, I am cushioned from the daily reality that to sustain life, I have to take life. I understand this truth on an intellectual level, but don't usually engage with it on a visceral level. And yet, as a privileged member of the human race, I am complicit in taking life and harming life, not just to sustain me, but also to thrill, pacify and delight me. 

My self righteousness and indignation at the snake prevailed until yesterday evening, when I was out on a hike and my dog, Pia, stopped to sniff what appeared on first glance to be a dark earthworm. On closer inspection, it was a baby black snake who was pinned by the gaze of my six pound dog, trying desperately to flatten into the rocks. Baby black snakes, it turns out, are just as heart melting as a clutch of eggs. Back home from the hike, I read that black snakes only eat bird eggs if desperate. 

If only all the heartache and harm we humans cause could be chalked up to something so worthy as quelling genuine hunger.