Anne-Marie Levine

Snakes Do It

I’ve always wanted to know how snakes do it.
Make love, you know.
I mean, they seem all of a piece.
It’s hard to imagine a protrusion or a hole.
I asked a vet from the zoo. He didn’t seem to know,
just said, “they do it, don’t worry,”
in a smart-ass, knowing way, as if to show
he was superior to my question.
I asked another vet, this one does research
on animal reproduction at a major New York hospital,
and he didn’t seem to know either,
just muttered something about a cloaca.
I looked that up in the dictionary:
“The common chamber into which the intestinal,
urinary, and generative canals discharge.”
Also a word for sewer.
He seemed to think that would satisfy me.
It didn’t, of course. I was longing
to imagine the scene. Two snakes, you know.
Then while I was reading Cosmo at the gynecologist’s
I came upon a fascinating article on love
in the animal world. Not only, it said,
not only does the male snake have a penis,
he has two penises. It seems one’s a spare,
in case he loses one, or goes over a pothole, or something.
No wonder those guys didn’t want to talk about it.