Blue-eyed Snake

by Paul Hooker

What in the world is a blue-eyed snake?
A sign that things are surely changing,
that what is old is sloughing off,
not yet replaced by something new.
It’s hard to know just where you’re going
when you can’t see just where you are.

Snakes shed their skin. It’s how things are.
It must be hard to be a snake:
about the time you get things going
your eyes grow dim and things start changing.
You have no choice: you face the new
blind as a bat. The first thing off

is eyelid skin—before it’s off
it turns opaque, and your eyes are
useless and blue, like a new-
born. Don’t see blue eyes in snakes—
unlike with us, though ours keep changing,
a sign of how things may be going.

I can’t help wondering if what’s going
on with us is not far off
from snakes whose skin is always changing.
How vulnerable it seems we are
to fear of change. Like a snake
reflexively we hiss at new

threats perceived though unseen, new
apparitions in the fog, going
past us in the dark. A snake
will strike at you to warn you off.
I have a sense that’s how things are
with us when life is always changing—

new people keep arriving, changing
settled ways, insist on new
accommodations in how we are
used to speaking, used to going
about our days. Something’s off,
and we have learned to strike like snakes.

We’re holed up like a blue-eyed snake
blind and changing. But always off
ahead the new is where we’re going.