Little & Big Worlds

On an incredibly warm afternoon, a little girl discovers a pencil-thin garter snake curled up in the gravel alongside the library. Snow lies ubiquitous on the playground, but the earth there has emerged from its winter hibernation: a green iris shoot, dark mud. I love snakes, the girl says dreamily.

VPR carries news of the stock market’s plunge, of quarantine, of illness. All these factors, in one way or another, may eventually — later? sooner? — reach this little girl. For now, she stands in the snow in her boots and a t-shirt, staring at the creature. Under her arm is tucked a grownup natural history guide, a book she’s checked out of the library.

Later, after a nearly six-hour-long school board meeting filled with simply stuff, we lean back in chairs. It’s nearly midnight. There’s still snacks on the table. I’ve long finished my tea. Head home? I put my forehead on the school library’s table, its wood hard beneath my bone. Eventually, I gather my papers. Outside, the air is balmy. I breathe.

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