A Parade of Snakes

Photograph by Jose Padua
The first question might be who put
these motherfucking snakes in this
motherfucking parade?
But it doesn’t
matter—this is the parade we have today
and these are the snakes, crawling on the
asphalt through drums and tubas and fire
trucks and funny cars and fezzes, because
the snakes can’t pick up drums and, if they
could pick up tubas, they wouldn’t be able
to play them, and I don’t even want to
consider what it would involve to have
a snake behind the wheel of a fire truck,
driving down the street as the siren makes its
knife in the ear sounds and flashes its lights
above, below, and around us as we wave
to the snake firemen who can’t wave back,
because they’re snakes and snakes, being
without hands, can’t wave, and I have no
idea how they’d drive, but as I said I’m
not going to think about that. So they crawl,
and because they can’t wave we’re the only
ones waving, the only ones smiling, the only
ones assuming that, if the snakes could, they
would reciprocate with some kind of pleasant
gesture that expresses a sense of affinity or
affection for us. It’s strange, I know, for those
among us who have never attended a snake
parade—the sound of snakes slithering
on the street is surrounded by an almost
frightening silence and there’s no one to throw
out candy for the children. Snakes don’t do that,
of course. They can’t. And because there are
so many things they can’t do there’s not much
left for them to do but parade before us, stretching
and twisting like little rivers we’ll never step into
with rolled up trousers, creating images we’ll
remember for the rest of our lives, creating
a silence that, like the pause between the end
of a performance and the applause, may help
carry us through the difficult days ahead.

-Jose Padua

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