The Snake Charmer

a poem by Nishu Mathur, India

The old wizened wrinkled snake charmer, with a red turban on his head,
A khaki  bag across his shoulders, a dhoti wrapped around his legs.

He traces his ancestors path, makes his way through dusty lanes,
Calling out through his flute, hoping to cast his spell again.

A coiled cobra wrapped in a basket... his livelihood he carries around,
No doubts, no fear, with his snake the snake charmer walks the town.

Curious chatter, a fascinated child yearns to see the snake rise,
Dancing to the charmer's tune, a cobra or a viper mesmerized.

With the basket a distance away, the charmer sits crossed leg, his tune to play,
The snake slowly uncoils serpentine, moving to the flute,  it starts to sway.

A crowd gathers and like the snake, it stands entranced with widened eyes,
The cobra dancing to the flute ...with it's movement, hypnotized.

The snake raises it's head and lunges forward with a menacing hiss,
The snake charmer unperturbed plays his flute, and gives death a miss.

Coins, notes, come the charmer's way...sighs, cheer, clear and loud,
A prayer in humble gratitude, the snake charmed, so the crowd.

The flute the snake charmer plays is called 'been' or 'pungi' 
Dhoti is a like a wrap, a traditional attire for men tied around the waist and legs.

There are not many practicing snake charmers in India now due to laws to protect snakes( from poachers, cruelty) and snakes are not allowed to be kept as pets. Snake charmers of yore did not seem to resort to cruel measures to capture snakes and keep them in captivity..( unlike modern ones)..

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