The Solsgirth Snake
The huge metal clasp that held my father’s pit bag jumble, a mesh string sack, was
A giant’s safety pin. Lilliputian, I was fascinated. Could never touch,
But stared up goggle-eyed as it lay dormant on the kitchen counter.
The orange boiler suit he wore, soot-stained, crumpled in a ball
Spoke of Work and Tired and Don’t Pester Him. I remember
The time he brought a fossil home, glossy, blue-black, with the imprint
Of scales, rough, around the outside. It was a snake chunk, squat as a sushi roll.
No other thing I had owned had held such dread and glamour: such mystery -
Ageless, reptilian coal: how I treasured it, clutched it in my hand at night
Showed it to other awed six-year-olds, then snatched it back. I have it still.
I am older now, and keep it in a drawer: it bides its time.
Previously published in Treasures (Scottish Book Trust, 2013)
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