Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In the society of creaturedom

A snake lives under the stoop of my writing studio. A Bahamian brown racer, Alsophis vudii, three feet long and as thick as my thumb. Not quite sure why it's called a "racer." My snake moves with a tropical languor. If it's basking on the flagstones when I come along, it will flatten its neck, flick its tongue, and fix me with its beady eyes, as if to say, "Move along, lump, you are blocking my sun." It is sometimes waiting for me with its head sticking out of its hole between the flags when I come to take up my post at my laptop. I get down on my knees and we have a staring contest to see who'll blink first. (Yeah, yeah, I know, snakes can't blink.) (Which is why I never win.) It's a beauteous, sinuous thing that seems to have discovered that life without legs saves on shoe leather without any noticible abridgement of mobility. Flannery O'Connor once described her life in an interview: "I write every day for at least two hours, and I spend the rest of my time largely in the society of ducks." I would answer similarly, but with the ducks replaced by snakes, geckoes, hummingbirds and spiders.