Mark 16:17-18, Acts 28:1-6
Because of the present rain,
and because of the cold,
a viper rises from a wicker basket,
coils around a preacher’s shovel-spent hands
as simple pews bear the weight
of the now-standing faithful.
Here, where land slopes like gaunt cheekbones,
they shall take up serpents,
call upon He-who-moves-them as venom
drips from fang to wrist,
as the preacher’s words begin
to tangle like calves in barbed-wire,
and the serpent, tempted by neck-flesh,
heeds its own holy call to strike.
Screams of children, thud of dropped Bibles:
The air turns thick with disbelief as man
and snake writhe on the dusty floor,
as the congregation stumbles back
toward their shacks, knowing nothing now
can cast out devils from their bodies
and fields—from the mines
they must descend come Monday.