Grandpa Shot a Rattlesnake in the Goddamn Face
by Remy Ramirez
with a rifle. more like in the slither. bit pepper right under the eye and her face swelled up like a cow and a bullfrog. my grandpa is 86. pepper survived. if a rattlesnake bites you in the heart you die. if a rattlesnake bites you in the face your face swells up like a cow and a bullfrog and you hide under the bed and you don't eat and you don't eat.
one time tío michael ran over a rattlesnake, over the cascabel and he thought he'd blown a tire.
one time when i was 26 i was crouching on the ground away from a rattlesnake and my grandpa took ten minutes to get from the door to the gate the puppies were antsy i was holding them by the collar he had a rifle and grandma's hair was in curlers she had on a house dress it was about eight ‘o clock so things were pink and gray and the gravel was gray and the gravel was hot i looked up and grandpa knew what the fuck he was doing he lifted the rifle he fought in germany he walked through german snow for 28 days there were only three of them left by the end they flew him to a hospital and said we're going to cut off your feet they'd been frozen for 28 days a year later he was in paris they were giving everyone free booze in the streets the war was over and then i heard a shot i'd never heard a shot before it was so loud I couldn't hear anything the dogs were crying i watched their bodies folding grandpa was walking to the house one foot in front of the other real slow the gun pointing down the first conversation we would ever have would be three days later ‘cause grandma was in the bathroom doing her makeup with the fan on so grandpa and i ate tortillas alone and he said the ocean was red on d-day with the blood of boys and the snake died with one shot its mouth wide open and its body wide open.
Remy Ramirez (she/her) is a poet, essayist, pop-culture journalist, podcaster, and editor. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin. Her poems have been featured in The Southern Review, Survivor Lit, and The Miscreant; her essays in Marie Claire and Cherry Bombe; and her celebrity interviews in NYLON, BUST, and Tidal (where she is currently the executive editor). Her podcasts, The Pa-trauma Party and Sign of the Crime, can be found anywhere you get podcasts. She lives in Sedona, AZ because the thrifting is good and so is the karaoke.