The Serpent and the Sun

He loved her like the serpent loves the Sun, longing for warmth that would animate him.

It was like he had barely had any pulse before, now he only wanted to stretch out in front of her, exposing himself to all the nasty elements, the children who would scream “Snake!” and the sons of Adam who would cut his head off for daring to worship the Sun.

And like the Sun she was indeed, infinite was her warmth, endless her indifference. For friendliness costs nothing and she was either too happy or too scared to show any uncertainty. After a while he slithered away and hid among the rocks and hissed his terrifying love songs that made most people recoil in horror.

In some ways it was good, even people pregnant with boredom could finally feel something. Hungry with disappointment he went out onto the fields and in the long grass waited for something special to happen, and soon enough he saw a herd of cows.

He swallowed one of them whole, his jaws wide open, but he was still hungry. He kept eating large animals until he was the size of a house and only a cat the size of a palace could kill him. But he was no longer a danger to anyone, he was tired of eating and made a nest close to the Moon. It would have been an ideal place to guard eggs, and sometimes he dreamt of having offspring he could send out into space to love other stars much warmer and bigger and even more indifferent.

But despite the way he had seen her, she had always loved him, given him life, and even now on the rocky surface of the Moon she was his only comfort. In fact, what he called indifference was only love that did not discriminate between life forms, and the serpent was just as beautiful as the cows and the mice he ate.

He was so big now that he was almost as lonely as the Moon itself and thus one day he said “I am ready to die” and started travelling towards the Sun to see if he could swallow her whole like everything else.

But she was still too big for him, and she welcomed him with open arms. As he plunged into the hot plasma she let out a loud hiss, although of course no one on Earth heard it. This was a private moment.

He smiled mischievously.

Finally they spoke the same language.

Comment. This story is doused in myths. The style reminds me now of some African myths, but the idea of a serpent or some other animal swallowing the Sun must be pretty universal. In addition, there’s some play on perspectives, the differences between how the serpent sees itself, how it imagines everyone else sees it, and how they actually see it. In that respect there are some questions of postmodernism lurking in the background. Maybe it’s better not to lock down the meanings of myths. I like the idea of this Sun as an eternal mystery, a kind of deity, and how indiscriminate love may look like indifference.