As Anacondas Go

The anaconda is regarding me from up that tree
With merely intellectual interest. The enormous bulge
Which quadruples its girth part way along the heaps of coils
Which occupy the sagging branches of the tree is proof.
An anaconda isn’t one for snacking between meals.
Obesity is not a risk it runs. Our guide would guess
It won’t be in a mood for eating for at least a week.
‘What does it eat?’ I ask. ‘Oh, meat in general,’ he says,
‘Though probably,’ – he sizes up my lanky frame – ‘not you.
You’d be too big. It’s only small as anacondas go.’

Our very small canoe makes progress through the flooded grove.
I’m glad I’m big as tourists go. I’m hoping not to meet
An anaconda here who’s hungry and who isn’t small
As anacondas go. The guide has brought a hunting knife
Which is, I see, quite big as weapons go for self-defence.
My wish not to be squeezed out of my middle-sized dear life
Is, out of all proportion to the way things go, immense.

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