Dr. Sager's Poem
Scrolling Title Sequence
Query: What rules require
the writer remain within
the format limitations
of one literary genre?
Opening Shots (POV)
Twilight, summer evening:
in the porch light
a Mojave lies,
a desert talisman, shaman stick
diagonally thrust straight
across my porch’s cement square
like a compass needle
as though it cannot fathom
the smooth, cool feel of
cement to its belly, nor
brick façade wall and screen door
that block its way along the unmarked
but memorized paths residing
in its primitive reptilian brain.
For the snake that came before
the snake that came before
there was no house, no
sidewalk, nothing to cross,
or block its progression from flats
to the next mountain or mesa
filled with rabbit or desert rat, whatever surrenders
to its deadly venom to become its sustenance.
Who am I, to modify its path through eternal time?
Despite the screen-door between the snake and me,
I am possessed by its essence: green tinged,
pebble-grained skin, thick, rigid, patterned body,
dark tongue and rattle-studded tail.
(Medium Pan Shot, Left [through screen, from inside house])
Tensed, a scant five feet
along the adjoining walkway,
my small tortoise-shaded, long-haired cat,
crouches, its eyes on the snake.
(Zoom-Out, Pan Right, until inclusive of cat and snake)
Soon the snake will sense the cat’s direction,
and turn to satisfy another instinct, so that
the snake, the cat, and I will play out a drama
linked by hunger, fear, and affection.
For the moment, nothing moves:
I’m fear-frozen; the cat catapult-cocked.
She’s ready to launch at the motionless snake.
A matter of seconds to turn in place
out the back door, over the deck,
across the yard, through the side gate,
around to the front of the house.
The scene as before
(cat poised to leap, the snake as asleep),
I now enter, scooping up the cat.
Then, my fingers deep
in cat fur, I look up to see the snake
twisting about, in serpentine S’s,
head slightly raised, its eyes
fixed on the cat and me.
I invert my steps, watching the snake.
Then spin round and run, cat in arms,
circling the house, tossing the cat inside.
I pause to grab a hoe for the snake –
but when I return, the walkway is empty,
and darkness drapes the front lawn.
So I retreat to the haven of porch light,
barefoot, bare-legged, summer shorts, and T-shirt,
wearing not much more than that in Eden,
totally vulnerable in the world of the snake –
better to step inside the screen-door, turn off the light.
Let the snake return to its realm of night.
The image, the angled snake
across the lighted porch, surrounded by darkness
is stronger than any paralyzing poison –
a turgid, phallic form, etched in my psyche.
Ending Shots (As in Satellite Mapping Shots)
(Zoom-in, overhead shot inclusive of house, porch and deck visible and surrounding streets out to where the ranch pastures cut off the regularized street patterns of the urban housing development)
(Zoom-out to show layout of town, surrounding ranch land, mountainous desert beyond)
(Zoom-in to close-up of golf course at the edge of the town)
(Extreme close-up zoom to last green of golf-course)
Passing the hole of the last green, a sinuous shape moves in the general direction
south-south-east, toward the far mountains of the Big Bend and Mexico,
in the darkness, obstacles and fear, not within its perception.
Advance Crew Notes: (Location) I think this house will work; the porch, deck, and side gate from the back yard match the requirements of the action. There is a vacant lot across the street, generally clear, except for cacti and native grasses. Equipment can be parked here. Science query: Yes, the Mojave rattlesnake is found in this part of Texas, even though it is named for a desert in California. It ranges across the U. S. Southwest through West Texas, down into Old Mexico, mostly in the mountainous desert sections. Safety precautions: Crew handling the snake should be aware that the venom of this variety of rattlesnake has a double toxicity – the venom not only breaks down the protein of the victim struck by the snake (for easier digestion) but attacks the nerves as well, paralyzing the victim (preventing escape).