Snakes of Summer

He’s coiling them now, the lot of them
tangled across the yard,
garden hose varietals in shades of green.
In early summer he dragged
these leafy-hued lifelines to plants
already parched and succumbing.

Back then, he laid each careful line,
belief grounded in the beneficence
of water, and each morning he showered
the fruits and vegetables A to Z
before the sun reached its zenith.

And though they kept their profiles low,
I know, oh, I know these ophidians arched
their supple bodies and leaned in to the task,
making offering in the least officious manner.

But the work is done and winter waits
for man and these the leanest of his aids,
articulate in silence then and now.

June Nirschl, a Door County resident since 2000, has had poetry published in Free Verse, the Peninsula Pulse, Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, and other publications. She has co-authored two chapbooks, most recently Two Off Q: A Conversation in Poetry with Judy Roy. The book has been selected as a Notable Book for 2008 by the Wisconsin Library Association.

Judge comments:
In a series of memorable back-yard images, we are presented with the lowly garden hose, elevated to slightly terrifying snakehood. Thanks to an effective hidden-camera approach and a confidential tone of voice, the poem convinces the reader that there’s considerably more going on out there in the garden than we ever dreamed. A delightful take on an unlikely subject.

– Marilyn L. Taylor