Alligator Poem

I knelt down
  at the edge of the water,
     and if the white birds standing
        in the tops of the trees whistled any warning

I didn’t understand,
   I drank up to the very moment it came crashing
     toward me,
       its tail flailing

like a bundle of swords,
  slashing the grass,
    and the inside of its cradle-shaped mouth
        gaping,

and rimmed with teeth—
  and that’s how I almost died
     of foolishness
        in beautiful Florida.