When Snakes Had Legs



When Snakes Had Legs
For Juan Ra

All the way back when snakes had legs…
and only a few believed that was true;
we sat around the fire that was melting down,
– slow burn and embers –
and shared the knowledge that was commonly known,
usually unchallenged, because, “Who held the proof otherwise?” and it was
easier to believe in impossible things,  than to throw oneself against a wall of
elders and neighbors, who knew better, what was possible
what was not, and what was the point anyway?

The legends lived late at night and as children our mouths hung open
while we feared and doubted and wild -eyed each other,
like scientists who finally found the proof of the yet unproven
– slow burn and embers –
Glee, madness, giddy good luck, we moved closer to believing
in everything and anything told to us that night.
We warmed our hands and tried to imagine those little snake legs,
running together in unison, no slip and slither, just a parade of feet marching,
high stepping , carrying a snake on top, like a float.
“Wow! Really?’ And we became believers!

Karima Hoisan
Nov. 22, 2019
Costa Rica

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24 Responses to When Snakes Had Legs

  1. ronald174 says:

    I think young folks have hovered around burning fires with hope and imagination running wild. Since man first walked on the Earth. They saw fantastic visions of the world yet to divulge itself. In the flickering oranges and blues and greens, images of life yet to unfold. What did these images mean? What did the fantastical shapes mean? Gods in the heavens were no stranger than marching snakes. As we age, we are told there are no marching snakes. Or gods in the heavens. Or magic. The adults demanded proof of reality. But adults forgot about magic! About belief in the unseen.Maybe that rustling in the underbrush is not a rabbit. Maybe it is a being from another dimension, bleeding thru the barrier. Perhaps a long gone relative keeping watch over us here. Adults have forgotten about magic. And possibilities! As you point out, there is joy in not having all the answers and not being quite certain!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Ron..how I love this comment!…Thank you once again for being so in tune to my thoughts, my writing, my crazy wanderings of imagination:) I feel for you, the magic still exists too..as you know,t his is a “theme ” of mine..something that comes out in many of my writings, that I am not even aware of until later..Juan Ra, may he rest in peace , was a rancher, neighbor, and had some of the greatest stories I have ever heard..He enthralled us with them, about the “duendes” (dwarves) and yes the snakes with legs, that he swears he saw one day, running out of a bonfire…We put all skepticism aside(yes, because we were still young or young at heart:) and just, as you said so well, pondered the validity and enjoyed the uncertainty:)Thank you my friend, for this beautiful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. daleinnis says:

    Love this. It’s so easy to forget back when things were potentially any way at all, and magic was just as likely as snakes with legs or flying to the moon or driving a car. Thank you for the reminder!

    Liked by 3 people

    • How right you are Dale…easy to forget, and hard to recapture that innocence of believing in everything we hear (especially in this day and age:) but what a joy to just let go off those little doubts and think ,”Why not?” and ponder alternative realities right within our own. As Ron says, it might not be a rabbit we hear.. could be so much more interesting and magical that awaits our discovery:) Thank you for this great comment!

      Liked by 2 people

    • ronald174 says:

      Dale, this is beautifully put! “Any way at all” succinctly nails it. The sense of absolute wonderment and possibility. That really defines childhood, in a larger sense. There is a theory that children lose much of their inherent “magic or psychic connection to the Earth at puberty. That we lose being “magic then. That seems to be real for most. Fantastic and revelatory dreams seem to taper off then for most. That is sad. I think artists and writers, etc. manage to hang on to that inborn ability that is somehow lost. Maybe the energy in campfires stimulates that creative access again. In this life I have indeed ‘stepped” over the line between this world and the next. A brain aneurysm can do that. Am not supposed to be alive now. But I know some of what that rattling in the brush can contain more that wind. One can get used to being in two worlds at same time. It is “magic” if one defines it that way. It is mostly just physics of the natural Universe. But-it is still magic!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Karima, you’re a dreamer which is essential to your work- a divinely superb penning!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a comment from Jan Betts who has trouble with WordPress letting her successfilly leave them here:)
    ““Loved it… took me right there by the fire…fascinated by the idea of snakes with legs! And I was left with the image of the snake being carried like a float by all its little legs…. loved it. Karima you never cease to surprise me with just what your eclectic and effervescent imagination with treat us with next!” I remembered to copy my comment this time… I don’t think it went thru…”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hoyt says:

    I’m with Jan Ruca! You never cease to amaze. Those rational folks stole the magic of your friend Juan, Aesop, Coyote the Trickster, Mother West Wind….The list goes on. Thank you for the reminder. I’ll stick with the magic. Feliz dia de gracias!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dessertflower5 says:

    Wow loved it. Sounded like a folklore poems that were discussed through poems with a bonfire.

    Regards dessert flower

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Had me at the title! That’s always a good way to capture readership. The poem is so readable, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Glad I did..This is a true memory of growing up in rural, very rural Costa Rica, where stories and bonfires replaced the Discovery Channel:) We had no electricity, so relied on the elder wiser neighbors, to tell us about the world:) Thank you for commenting once again Benjamin! I can barely keep up with you:):) What fun!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s such a great picture you paint/write. It makes me long for that time before the digital age. In some ways it was more peaceful and the sense of community was strong. But, of course, there are things that are great about now too.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh yes and yes! When my family moved to Costa Rica in the early 70’s it was like going back 100 years in time.. One big thing it did do for me, well two, was make me a reader and an observer..a young poet.


  9. we feared and doubted and wild -eyed each other,
    like scientists who finally found the proof of the yet unproven

    I *love* these lines in particular, Karima. This is such an amazing piece… it makes me feel jealous of your childhood!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you David..and believe me I am very grateful for having this opportunity too..It molded me for life.. ❤️ In our town we had a total population of 66 adults and many children and we all knew each other..mid 70’s to mid 80’s when electricity came in with the Costal highway construction.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Capturing childhood days is such a rich and rewarding experience for so many and it is wonderful to be reminded of those days.


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