Heat Seekers

The leaden snake feeds halfway out
into Spring sunshine, rolls its heavy head
back into sweet shade of rock

absorbs a precise quantity of heat
sufficient come nightfall to pursue prey
located by a pit between nostril and eye.

Before a strike the body stiffens momentarily.
Needles enter his skin without pain
bestow the sought-after serenity

until woken with mercury beneath the tongue
sweat falling in rivulets, a display screen
describing green uplands and valleys

recording his body like Wiltshire
coloured contours exposing here and there
an illegal field of rape or primal outcrop

slight blemish on the community’s scheme of things
ancient settlement a radiant circle
dome upraised on this hairy upland

catches the specialist’s half-lensed eye.
If the disease had come later
he’d not have worried them,

not waste his time considering escapes
bulldozers with precision blades
trying not to muck up the ancient signals

his nightly vision of Absolute Zero
where all motion he’s discovered, ceases
supercooling liquid poured into his shining crown

cellular activity seizing up, an ice-age
descending from the white mountains
to preserve civility.

In his imaginary death
the crazed, hot exciting landscape
is swathed in unblemished snow.

Christopher Cook