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'Nice snake!'

(This poem is spun from a story I was told of an actual little girl in South Africa)Slowly and with no mistake the giant snake is inching up the veranda where the five year old sits, joyfully sloshing her cereal. As if planned and without noise, the boa constrictor guiltlessly encircles the chair and the child in his coils. He lets his eyes come close to hers. "Nice snake!" she says, lifting a spoonful of milk up to his mouth. He feels excused. He sips the milk. She lifts the spoon to her own lips. His innocence coincides with hers. Valued now, he waits. She feeds him again with special care "One for you and one for me." Suddenly he dips his mouth deep into the bowl. The child taps his head with her spoon and laughs: "Naughty, naughty! Wait your turn!" The boa constrictor meekly places his scaled face against her cheek. Repentance is response to love. Once again she lifts her spoon full of light. His lips sip. They take turns till the bowl is empty. Unhurriedly, then, he uncoils and slides beneath the veranda steps. We must demythologize.

Innocence can not be earned: innocence is immanent; innocence is untouched by guilt or hurt or old age. Innocence is a child with a snake and a bowl of cereal - astonishing the day, celebrating art.

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