Cascabel

I am picturing the baby, fat and brown like a potato, on the floor crawling toward the snake. It has a rattle he wants to play with. The snake shakes it tail and the baby comes closer.

I am picturing Elena, la mamá, young like I have never seen her. I feel the freezing of her blood, the seizing of her heart when she sees her baby reach for the giant snake. Her stomach wretches and from her throat bursts his name.

The baby stops and turns his head. She starts across the long floor to catch him.

I see the grandma see the mother see the baby. I see her grab the mother’s arm.

No she says.
No lo agarre.
Si lo agarra, le pica seguro.

This is Indian wisdom, older than the afternoon’s distant thunder. And they call him.

Papi. Papi venga.

The snakes rattles. The baby looks.

Venga mi niño.

They cannot touch him. He sits on the floor like a fat brown potato.

The mama is afraid. The grandma is afraid. The rattlesnake is afraid.

Papi, véngase.
Venga mi amor.

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