As published in Number One, Gallatin, Tennessee
She is the guardian, protector of the wilderness.
She circles round and round among the rocks.
Her belly swells with new life.
Transparent eggs open when expelled,
snakes born alive.
The young will have a rattle,
just like mom.
They warn before striking,
but beware their presence.
Beneath flowering azaleas,
or within a handhold on a rock face,
the guardian may be there.
“Don’t tread on me,”
the buzzing rattle warns.
This is her domain, assuring
the travelers go wearily onward.
So long as the guardians remain,
fewer travelers camp on top of wild orchids,
fewer wander off the trails.