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Overhead Snakes

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.


I suppose that they had been slithering along the margins of my subconscious for some time but were recently brought into focus by a picture my sister-in-law sent the other day from her home in Katmandu. They are everywhere in Caceres, creeping up the sides of walls and leaping across streets in coiled licorice-like ropes with the occasional pair of shoes dangling from them. When I first arrived in Caceres my eye would always trace their outlines and be inexplicably drawn to their sinister bondage look but time seems to blur the edges of what is novel and new and with its passing can make everything routine. Yet every so often I’d be reminded that they were there, like that occasional whiff of tobacco that brings back the urge to the ex-smoker, and dread what would happen to if they were suddenly freed by a strong wind. Then one August, I was threading my way home in the thin ribbon of shade thrown by the beautiful palaces in the old town when I noticed that, like other reptiles, these wall snakes preferred the sunny side of the street. Puffing up the calle Amargura, I saw to the right that familiar extra bit of shade thrown from the ribbons of black stuck to whitewashed walls of people’s homes but noticed that to the left along the earthen wall of the Diputacion’s immense parking lot, not a one (the provincial seat of government). The absence continues through Santa Maria until you reach the Plaza, where the braids seem to congregate once again around every door and window. Since moving into the old town, I have read several times in these very pages that these pests would be exterminated and buried in the ground along with their water carrying cousins. It’s now some five years later and even in the autumn cool, there they are, drawn to the white and, strangely enough, absent from the brown. 

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