Watching Grass Snakes

She was looped
on a pallet of reeds
hunting for marsh frogs
when he swam
in one straight line,
pipped like a domino,
black on lime green,
pouring onto the bank
and over the reeds
in an urgent ripple
to thrust through her
dull olive folds. Together
they stiffened and thrashed
like a rope – then stayed
entwined, flicking
their blue-black tongues,
as the water slopped
and lifted the reeds.

Then he left her, coiling
away, head raised
eeling along the stream
a flash of yellow
at his neck, his body
snakier than hers,
primed for another
ecstatic figure of eight
before the drought set in
and life drained
from the unsustainable marsh.

Ruth Smith