A Tale of the Darasa of Eastern Africa

Poetry

Couple Holding Hands

In the beginning, death was optional for all,

Even serpents and men. Then God, weary

Of the importunings of so many,
Decided that either men or snakes must go,

And arranged a race between the two

For immortality: the first to reach
Him from the falls whites call Victoria

Could live forever. Running along, the man

Spied a lovely woman, and stopped to disport.
They cuddled and fondled so long the snake

Reached God first. So God said to the man when
He arrived, Since you would rather make love
Than live forever (I made you thus, it seems),

Only snakes may yearly renew themselves
By shedding their skin and leaving it behind.

What say you about this choice?

Randel McCraw Helms is retired from Arizona State University’s English Department. His recent poems have appeared in such places as “Dappled Things,” “Blood & Bourbon,” and “Silkworm.”