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At sixteen,
sixteen miles

from Abilene

to be exact),

on being not
this, not that,

I drove
a steamroller

smack-dab over
a fat black snake.

Up surged a cheer
from men

so cheerless

were grunts, squints,
whisker twitches

it would take
a lunatic acuity

to see.
I saw

the fat black snake
smashed flat

as the asphalt

under all ten tons
of me,

flat as the landscape
I could see

no end of,
flat as the affect

of distant killing

it would take a native
to know was love.

Christian Wiman

The New Criterion

June 2013

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