Monday, January 11, 2010

Why Snakes Have No Hands

I was talking to Brother Snake last year and I asked this question. I asked what was going to happen to us. He didn’t say but he told me this story. It soured my lunch. He slithered off and I swear his scales whistled.

Why Snakes Have No Hands

Snakes once had two hands
but didn't want the burden,
so they gave their hands
to children of men
so we could shoulder the blame
for the end of things.

In fact they gave us shoulders
also. We thought this a boon.

March 17, 2009 12:33 PM


  1. Ohhhhh...snort!

    Most excellent.


  2. Being a poet has its advantages :)

  3. Oh! This is wonderful - such depth in so few words. Love it.

  4. Have you thought about doing a chapbook?

  5. i laugh!
    i laugh!
    two minutes ago, two minutes ago i wrote this to a dear friend:

    "and so it is that i am within this thing of life and i can understand it, but i am like one of those obnoxious fans at a football game with big styrofoam hands on. with hands such as this i can't help but to inadvertently hurt and handle things wrongly."

    thanks alot snakes!

    powerful, Christopher. this one is so powerful and true.

  6. Karen, Erin, I pull this story out of memory more than I compose something new. I don't know where I get it from. I am not sure how different is my telling either.

    In a related thing, I have trouble with the demarcation lines between dream and memory. Also my dream life is not located anywhere near my waking life. The locations are not earthly though they are in many ways earthlike.

    So sometimes I am not certain if I remember a life event or a dream. This is one of them. I googled "why snakes have no hands" and got close with "why snakes have no legs" but no cigar.

    I just this morning had a dream with obvious ties to reality but not of here. In this dream I remembered another dream I know I had, though in the dream it wasn't another dream but another time in this place. This dream was the same place set up for many people to visit, like a factory dressed up for a carnival and the carnival crowds, with overlays constructed to guide the crowds. With the surface structures in place, that explained why the day to day structures of the earlier dream were the way they were.

    I try to connect this stuff to some real memory or place and encounter a mild anxiety along with the inability to do it. Like having a memory and nowhere to put it, like amnesia.

  7. Enjoyed your spin on the snake, but I know that God took his hands, determined that for the rest of eternity he would crawl on his belly in the dust. A heavy cost for deception. But I fear the result is the same as your story. Hands-deception-deceit. We carry them now.

  8. Oh there it is, a biblical Sunday School fable. Thanks, Annie. I think it isn't really hands, but legs in the fable, and the curse of crawling in the dust comes from not having legs to lift the snake out of the dust. Losing legs is evolutionary accuracy, however. The vestiges of legs are there if I remember correctly, just as they are in whales.

    I am pretty sure this is a story of Christendom around the Bible, not a story in it.

    I like the snake giving away hands better than being shorn of legs as punishment. It has ducking responsibility in it. The snake is not evil in the tempting Eve sense but in the Tom Sawyer getting out of painting the fence sense.

    I must confess to having even in childhood different feelings for some of this stuff.

    I don't like the assumption that having legs is better than snaking along the ground, not when snakes also swim well and climb trees well, basically as well as other creatures, even better. Not having legs seems like no curse to me. Nor do I see "the dust of the earth" as basically unclean.

  9. I'm pretty sure the snakes don't actually give a rats backside :)

  10. I suspect you are right, Michelle. Right two ways. First the snakes do not generally get all theological and judgmental.

    Second, those snakes that eat rats eat them whole. There is no backside to give. If you have no hands, then you pretty much have to eat your food in one bite. :)

  11. I love legends. This has a nice feel to it. And thank you, Christopher, for the ticket to Bermuda you got for the Ice Witch. I shall be sneaking along with her, in her chilly luggage if I can!

  12. I love this one, Christopher. And thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog.


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