A Letter from Your Neighbor
Hello! This is your neighbor; I live not far from you.
You’ve likely heard, regarding me, some things that are not true.
I’m writing you this letter so that I can set things right.
I hope you’ll see me as a friend – at least not as a fright.
It is important that you know I only hunt down prey.
(In case you are uncertain, I don’t see you that way.)
I do like to eat rodents! They eat the plants you grow.
My meals do you a favor! See, aren’t you glad you know?
Those rodents also spread disease; they are not very clean.
I keep your family safe from germs, so please don’t think I’m mean.
Remember when bubonic plague killed people by the dozen?
A strain like that could take your life! Your kids! Your mom! Your cousin!
It was the rats who snuck around that brought you this disease,
So is it really too much if I ask you kindly please
Allow me to do a good job of keeping them away?
Don’t yell at me or hurt me as I go about my day.
This might be a surprise to you, but I am rather shy.
When I’m approached by something that is much bigger than I,
I do not try to hiss nor bite nor firmly stand my ground;
I curl up so the giant thing will not know I’m around.
Although the simple sight of me seems to raise great alarm,
I can assure you fervently that I mean you no harm.
Please treat me with proper respect, but please do not be wary;
Most animals that you call “sweet” are really far more scary!
So, if you think lions and bears are cute as cute can be,
Then surely there’s room in your heart for gentle, cautious me!
If it is my appearance that makes you think I’m gross,
Please know I have a lovely smile – just do not get too close!
If it’s my lack of arms and legs that makes you think I’m weird,
Know that my long, lean body is nothing to be feared.
I dance and weave across the ground like birds do through the sky,
Most never even notice me as I wiggle on by.
Though I’m not warm and fuzzy, for hair I also lack,
I wear a string of diamonds at all times along my back.
Could it be that my small, forked tongue seems horrible to you?
This might change your perspective: Hummingbirds have forked tongues, too.
Perhaps it is my venom that makes me seem so vile.
For all the damage it can cause, it does lots that’s worthwhile.
My venom keeps me safe and sound, secures my every meal,
And – in due time – it seems that it just might be used to heal
A bunch of human ailments, like heart attacks and strokes!
My kind is not so awful; we are decent, helpful folks!
If you are still quite worried that someday I might attack,
Please be aware that, on the whole, I’m really quite laid-back.
And if I can’t keep my temper, I’ll make my feelings known;
I’ll shake my rattling tail to say, “Please just leave me alone!”
You and I aren’t so different; we both adore the sun,
We both adore good meals, and we both think that it’s fun
To wander through the world at night and get to know the stars.
If only you could like me, what a friendship would be ours!
Of all the creatures in the world, I suspect I am not
The one that you would select as your favorite of the lot.
And if I’m never awesome in your eyes, that is okay,
But, before I end my letter, I simply have to say
To dislike one another would be a huge mistake!
So please give me a chance to be your friend. Love, Rattlesnake