They say Revis found a flatrock
on the ridge just
perfect for a natural hearth,
and built his cabin with a stick
and clay chimney right over it.
On their wedding night he lit
the fireplace to dry away the mountain
chill of late spring and flung on
applewood to dye
the room with molten color while
he and Martha that was a Parrish
warmed the sheets between the tick
stuffed with leaves and its feather
cover. Under that wide hearth
a nest of rattlers,
they’ll knot a hundred together,
had wintered and were coming awake.
The warming rock
flushed them out early.
It was she
who wakened to their singing near
the embers and roused him to go look.
Before he reached the fire
more than a dozen struck
and he died yelling her to stay
on the big four-poster.
Her uncle coming up the hollow
with a gift bearham two days later
found her shivering there
marooned above a pool
of hungry snakes,
and the body beginning to swell.