Snakes of September STANLEY KUNITZ

Here’s what Stanley Kunitz has to say about writing the poem ‘Snakes of September’ below. “There are forms of communication beyond language that have to do not only with the body, but with the spirit itself, a permeation of one’s being.  I strongly identify with Henry James when he wrote, in answer to a letter about what compelled him to write, ‘The port from which I set out was, I think, that of the essential loneliness of my life….’  One of the great satisfactions of the human spirit is to feel that one’s family extends across the borders of species and belongs to everything that lives.”


The Snakes of September

All summer I heard them
rustling in the shrubbery,
outracing me from tier
to tier in my garden,
a whisper among the viburnums,
a signal flashed from the hedgerow,
a shadow pulsing
in the barberry thicket.
Now that the nights are chill
and the annuals spent,
I should have thought them gone,
in a torpor of blood
slipped to the nether world
before the sickle frost.
Not so. In the deceptive balm
of noon, as if defiant of the curse
that spoiled another garden,
these two appear on show
through a narrow slit
in the dense green brocade
of a north-country spruce,
dangling head-down, entwined
in a brazen love-knot.
I put out my hand and stroke
the fine, dry grit of their skins.
After all,
we are partners in this land,
co-signers of a covenant.
At my touch the wild
braid of creation