I vouched in song of late I’d seen a snake of reddish brown
T’was in my car but I had mixed the colours of the nouns
If anyone with eyes was passing by they would have seen
That wiry snake was not a brown but more an emerald green.
It matters not! In Ingham I had never seen the like
So ditch my keys I did and said: ‘I’ll ride now on a bike’
Matt Rice gave me a tip to stay off road and to head back
On path that lies between the cane and gridded railway track.
Just after Gus the Bus’s place, Matt said there was a gap
But cutting course it nearly led to my eternal nap
Mind-drunk on nature’s beauty serotonins flushed my brain
As flanked by misty mountains – I rode in gentle rain.
Three mares I passed by in a field had finches on their backs
Who barely moved when swishing tails, two white and one jet black,
Flicked overhead as if to warn of danger by the creek
The blue-winged kookaburra laughed and shook its dagger-beak.
Before instructed I had turned on to this dead-grass track
And whizzing merrily along I did not see the black
Gold gleaming skin or diamond scales – not far beyond my sneakers
Of what is the most venomous of all this earth’s dear creatures.
The taipan! She can kill a hundred men with just one bite
Too late I saw her ‘S’ frame flex as smooth and black as night
As thick as Abergowrie Valley – carved by Yamini
A million muscles, vial fangs, a head I could not see.
I split a drip and in a flash thought that I’d have to stop
But instinct kicked and I rode on for fear I’d land on top
Of this majestic beast, so close I’d smell her diamond scales
Gleaming like black gold – so I rode on along the trail.
She shunted quick as lightning’s flash away from the tread wheels
For it was I had rode into her world and not a meal
Pale-faced invader was I – though my heart knocked through my chest
The blessed creature had more fear of her unwanted guest.
I thought I’d met my end for that split second that it lasted
And as I’d passed with gasping breath cried: ‘Ricey you’re a blastard!’
I tingle now to think I saw such majesty in nature
Oh was it our all loving God – who made this fatal creature?
Although the taipan’s famed as the most venomous of beings
I feel at peace she nightly slithers near to where I’m singing
For snakes that trouble me do not crawl low upon their bellies
They spit out poison while they bitch and moan over the telly.
Now when I close my eyes and I see that taipan shunt
I think about Matt Rice – and I say: ‘Ricey you’re a…bloody good bloke’.
By Tony Moloney.
Image by Rita Sinclair.