Fight or Flight

My fight or flight response is broken
Or the flight gene never coded my DNA.
When an Everglades catfish ripped the cane pole
From my hands and I dived into Okeechobee
After it and into the personal space
Of a swamp gator who hissed and chuffed a warning,
I punched the gator on the snout
And only on my father’s hand on my neck
Saved my six-year-old skin from perforation,
Like luck did the night Cousin Jimmy stuck
His face in the kitchen window and screamed
While I was washing dishes, and I stuck a
Fist through the glass and into his nose.
It left not a mark on me (my cousin wasn’t so
Lucky. Jimmy carries a lot of marks from me)
And they called me fearless or too stupid
Because I didn’t have enough sense to run.
But I’m not fearless. I wanted to run every time
The kids popped a fever of 106 at 2am
And we were in the ER till lunch the next day or
When there wasn’t enough in checking
To cover the power bill and the water company
Turned off the tap outside in the middle dinner or
When the insurance said our policy didn’t
Cover the prescription for good glaucoma meds or
When the years fly buy like a Bugs Bunny cartoon and
You can’t punch a calendar for terrifying you.
Is it any wonder that something awakens within,
A strange yearning to return to the Sea of Grass
To find a big daddy alligator dozing in the glade,
Look him in the eye, and see if you’re still too stupid
To run.

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