Once I was home, Dad told me: You have the blood
of 100,000 innocent Iraqis on your hands. This was confusing
because when I was twenty-one and flying into Harare,
he said that it would be better to join the army.
But I didn’t, and I didn’t understand the change of heart,
Dad’s slip between “we’re-all-in-this-together” and
“you’re-here-on-your-own.” That evening I saw
a snake contorting itself around itself
over and over. Quickly, I warned my neighbor,
but she said she had already seen it. It had been
poisoned in her garage, and she had tossed it
over the fence into our yard. I wanted to ask
why she didn’t lie when she had the chance,
it would have been easy enough, the right thing to do,
better than pretending the snake wasn’t
a living thing dying in front of me, better than
admitting she had chosen our yard for that.
But I didn’t ask her, I just nodded
and steered the mower in a wider perimeter
around the snake’s seizing body.
Sam Ross received a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from Indiana University Bloomington and earned a master’s degree in Adolescent English Education while teaching eighth grade in Brooklyn, New York. A writer and photographer, he is currently a student at Columbia University School of the Arts.
Homepage photograph via Flickr by Shovelling Son