His wife screamed, "You hit it!"
as he got out of his car to look, hands on hips,
scowled at nine feet of black snake, head as big as his fist.
The serpent regarded him not at all
and only continued its slow crawl across the gravel.
"It’s fine," said Theseus. “I didn’t hit it.”
Then he surveyed the watery ditches on each side
and complained, “There’s no way around.”
"Well, you can't just run over it."
And that was that.
He picked up a dead branch and snapped off the twigs,
paused to loosen his belt a notch,
nervous and overweight, a long time since
battling Sinis or Skiron
or the embarrassing incident with the snapping turtle.
This monster looked heavy, riddled with rabbit-sized lumps,
then chipmunk-sized, mouse-sized towards the middle,
nibbles at the tail.
Quick, like a whip it snapped
when he touched the body with the stick.
His wife screamed.
The serpent did not bite,
nor did it even even try,
but hissed from the indignity,
Weary, it twitched to avoid the stick,
and in a minute hissed again
from the ditch on the other side of the road,
after he tossed it a few feet
to where it wanted to be.
It crawled into the grass, invisible in a few seconds,
ready for the next unwary chipmunk.
They stared for a moment, silent,
at the tall weeds and ditch water.
Although Theseus killed the centaurs
and the minotaur, long ago, to his shame,
he did manage to rescue one thing, at least.
He tossed away his weapon
and swung back into the car.
His wife tucked in his shirt.
“You’re getting slow,” she said.
“Yeah, yeah.” He slipped the car into gear
while she flicked off leaf fragments and dirt from his jeans.
Her lips brushed against his cheek
and they rolled forward
slowly, again, through another enchanted forest.