Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 5

Just now I was falling asleep in my chair while I read, so it's appropriate that today's haiku came in my sleep last night. Around 3 a.m. I woke up from a dream of a very persistent black snake that I was sure was dead, but kept lunging at me with its mouth open and threatening.

The dream felt like it had other significance behind it, but it also had to be related to an encounter my wife and I had about a month ago. We had put landscape netting over a hydrangea bush in our yard so that the neighborhood deer wouldn't eat it. One evening, though, we found a large black snake tangled in the netting, unable to move. In places the netting squeezed so tight that it was breaking the skin. Once we figured out that the snake was just a rat snake and no danger to us, we spent about an hour snipping it free from the net. One of us would hold it down while the other worked the scissors between the tight net and glistening black skin. The snake itself was largely calm, especially when we placed a dish towel over its head. Eventually we got it entirely free and got out of its way as it hurried under the deck.

We were quite pleased with ourselves and felt a special bond with our new friend the snake. For a couple of days we made joking remarks about where he might be, about his family, about his exploits defending our yard from copperheads... Which of course made it all the more disturbing when a week later we once again found a snake in the deer netting. This time our timing wasn't so good. Not only was the snake already dead but it had been torn in half by some predator. Flies swarmed over its gory middle.

So surely that's where the imagery in my dream came from -- but as I said the dream itself was about something else in my subconscious. Some other source of anxiety I couldn't put my finger on. As I lay wide awake at 3 a.m., the dream, the snake encounter, and yesterday's musings on how to make haiku in English more ambiguous all churned together in my thought. I got out of bed and scrawled the following in my notebook in the dark:







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