I had no appointment.
Asked to wait half an hour,
I left the office and walked to a meadow–
or more like an abandoned farm field–
at the edge of the complex.
A solitary oak stood in the field,
reminder of the past, whatever past it knew.
The ground was soggy from rain.
I had to watch where I walked.
And what might be hiding in the tall grass?
Doubling back, I strolled west
past low buildings, parked cars,
to the end of the lot, where there still
were trees, what was left of the woods.
I leaned towards them, peering in.
At their edge, motionless, was a garter snake,
small, with yellow stripes, his head raised.
He rippled forward a little into the light,
flicked his tongue as if tasting the air
then slithered back to the deep shade
of the woods, reclaiming what was his own.
That this being from the old world still persisted,
that I had come at the right moment to bear witness
buoyed me, and by this small grace,
I gladly kept my own company that day.