Leo, in the glint of his left eye, caught
the glide of the wavy water snake as
he brought his daily practice of a standing meditation
to a close.
The serpent’s head rose
like a periscope on the surface of the smooth
Erie lake today, untroubled by wind.
This scaly messenger from
the other world whipped
through the weeds
under the birch
tree to scale the limestone
boulder again, to crawl
the inscripted top and greet
the snake scratched
into the petroglyph.
400 turns around
the sun had passed since
a reptile had modeled for
this ageless image in rock.
Some island folk knew Leo to be a hermit,
not homeless, but home unknown.
He wore surgical scrubs, a buttonless cardigan,
and a woman’s straw hat in all weather.
His visible means of support
were sporadic odd jobs in the kitchens of
the island’s bars and restaurants
as he biked to work on a rusty one-speed Huffy.
In season he distributed handbills
to tourists for pleasure excursions to
Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass.
If you treated Leo to a whiskey
at the Village Pump you could hear another
tale of the spirits of sailors lost
when Perry scuttled the Niagara in 1813.