The Kiss of the Serpent by SuzAnne C. Cole

I ain’t never been afeared before.
Believed in the poison of snakes, sure,
but always trusted in Gospel more—
Believers shall take up serpents
and nothin’ will hurt them.

I’ve lived that trust all my time
preachin’ in most every mountain holler—
talkin’ in tongues, testifyin’ too—but
mostly witnessin’ with my snakes—cuz
if’n I cain’t take up them serpents like the
Good Book says, what else might
Gospel be wrong about?
I ain’t wantin’ to go down that trail.

I been bit, course, most of us have,
but that ain’t the promise. The Lord
says no harm will come—and it ain’t.
I’m not sayin’ we ain’t had some deaths,
but I reckin only those whose time it was.

But not little Alice. I cain’t believe
you needed her now, Lord.
Our youngest grand, just seven.
Quicksilver bright, a pure soul
steadier than most church elders.
She was so sure, sure enough to come
forward last Sunday, so sudden
to seize the serpent box, it froze us.
Carryin’ one to her mouth, she kissed
its awful scaly head. Hissing, it struck.
She fell like a rock, never rose again.

Tomorrow’s the Sabbath. I’ll preach,
grab a serpent, pray its kiss will kill.



SuzAnne C. Cole, former college English instructor, enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother; traveling and hiking the world; and writing from a studio in the Texas Hill Country. She’s been both a juried and featured poet at the Houston Poetry Fest and once won a haiku contest in Japan. Her poetry and short fiction have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Recent poetry publications include Ekphrastic Review, Poetry & Place, Vineleaves, Tule Review, Blood Lotus, Forge, SVJ and Binnacle.