A brief warmspell early
in May brought them out--
on my way to work would startle
them from sunning on the
late morning pavement--
slither back into the brush
with a shy rustle.

Now that the air has cooled again
on my way home
I see one dead, its tail-tip
cut off, half whitebelly up
near a crushed snail and a
dirty paper wrapper.

Was it the cold
that made its quick lithe
greenness sluggish, was it
some cruel child or careless dog
that worried it into
halfcoiled stillness?

Its mouth a dark grim frown
against the pale underbelly
as if in consternation about
its own unbeing.