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You came across me in the rough, as I wound my way through the populated thicket.
I was not aggressive despite my kind’s reputation.

You were wary, nonetheless, stepping lightly if not evasively. Still, you ventured closer than most. And so the dance went, for quite some time even.

An elastic waltz about a fanged mouth you feared that never bore teeth or poison. A fabricated fear coaxing your hazy steps. Each musical refrain was so much more a provocation, and so rarely ever an invitation. My part in your busking did not help or benefit.

Now the show is over. The rugs rolled up with our valuables collected. We are left to separate ourselves. The symbiotic duo disbanded. You — your affecting limbs bit dead, mistaking sweat for toxin, and me — wishing only now to fill my teeth with pain, to strike and sink and win, and lose.

To uncoil from from my basket and spit this welling venom would only stamp the skull and bones upon my home.

Instead I bite my tongue a new fork, refusing to be the animal you conjured.

I will never be the snake you hoped to charm.

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