Everglades (Burmese Python)

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords of life.

—D.H Lawrence, Snake, 1923.

They killed her, of course.
It was what they’d set out to do.
The actual stuff of nightmares.

Her final meal
was a white-tailed deer. Three men,
it took, to wrangle her. She didn’t go down easily.
For all their manpower, still she managed
to slap one upside the head with her tail.

Wouldn’t you, I wondered,
fight like hell after so many years
of surviving in a place you never wanted to be?
Wouldn’t you devour every single thing in your path?
Wouldn’t you make plans for your progeny,
to strike fear in the hearts of men—

men making plans of their own,
sending horny male scouts,
fitted with radio transmitters and looking for mates,
into the swamp, leading the charge
to search and destroy the females?

All I can think is that she survived,
and fiercely, all these goddamned years.
Eighteen feet long,
two hundred and fifteen pounds,
carrying a hundred and twenty-two eggs.
It’s just next-level for us, they said.

Bigger than anyone knew.
Breaking every record they had.
Multiplying in ways they hadn’t been able to fathom.

Ten thousand more, they warn the world,
are out here, in the Lake of the Holy Spirit,
this River of Grass,
these grassy waters going on forever.

Paula J. Lambert’s work has been recognized by PEN America and supported by the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She lives in Columbus with her husband Michael Perkins, a philosopher and technologist. More at www.paulajlambert.com. Paula J. Lambert is an award-winning poet from Columbus, Ohio. Her most recent collection is The Ghost of Every Feathered Thing (FutureCycle 2022). Read other articles by Paula J..