The azaleas all around the house had been there for years, untended. It was summer and violently hot – why did I want to be outside at all, much less working in full sunlight with heavy pruning shears? By which I mean, old-fashioned, with blades two feet long, better suited for pruning orange trees than these twiggy little limbs. But it was all we had, and I wanted to fix the overgrowth, to cut them down to a manageable size. We hadn’t seen out the front windows in years.

It was important for me to be working. Something had to keep my hands as busy as my brain. I was all webwork, all brainbuzz that twisted around and didn’t go anywhere. A cycle repeats itself until it turns into energy, any kind, just for release.

When I was done, I did not feel like I was done. The bushes looked fine but I knew there was more work to be found, on something. I crawled behind the bushes in the surprisingly cool dirt. I yanked out stowaway vines and brambles, tossing them behind me, shaking the azaleas from the inside, hidden. From the outside, was I a shrub ghost, or a kid, or dogs being friendly?

I eradicated the plants I didn’t like until I got exhausted with it and knew I was finished. There was just room enough for me to sit between the bushes and the dirty brick of the house. I shifted around to find a root-free ass area. Unapologetically fuchsia blossoms, knocked dead by my chopping and yanking, were all over, some whole, some crushed into darker color, in the soil, in my hair, in the angles and vertices of the truncated branches forming a web over me. More important than the blossoms in the bush was the snake in the bush, a little crunchy sun-blackened snake who’d crawled up and died. Three whole flowers had perched on his spine, he was nothing but spine.

We both crawled in to keep cool and think, Snake. Did you know you were going to die, or was it a surprise? It is not a bad spot to stay in. But it is a better spot to crawl out of.

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