Skinned

Holding a Dead Rattlesnake by flickr Creative Commons User JeffreyW

I remember the day at summer camp
when we caught the rattlesnake.
Beheaded it. Skinned it. Tossed the body.

Stretched the hide. Nailed to wood.
Poured salt on the skin
and placed it in the sun to dry.

I imagine the glistening bundles of muscle
shimmering in the sunlight
dappled with a pattern of leaves and the occasional cloud.
Now useless. They lie on a bed of forest decay.
Fluids which once carried oxygen and nutrients
ooze onto the litter of nature;
Debris of a less obvious struggle.

I can’t remember the snake’s struggle to survive.
Don’t recall a baring of fangs for defense.
Or what we did with the head.
But I do remember the beauty of the stretched skin
with its patterns and scales and my wonder at the ease with which we
denuded the snake of it and claimed it as our own.

Photo credit: flickr user jeffreyw