Nurse

From my pocket notebook. One morning last week.

I dream of snakes swimming through the air, flinging themselves at me like starving kittens, clinging to my chest & biting my male nipples with fangs too weak to pierce the skin. I wake to fine flakes, widely spaced, sinking like diatoms to the murky bottom of the sky. Three squirrels are following a fourth through the trees at the woods’ edge, a slow-motion chase up & down trunks & across swaying nets of black birch twigs. Female gray squirrels come into heat for eight hours every January. The chase is not to the swift, but to the persistent. Whenever she stops, the closest male inches forward with his snout low against the branch, trembling. I sit watching with my coffee, glad not to be a squirrel. I’m wearing a brand-new turtleneck shirt — black like all the others — & twist & twitch in its unfamilar embrace. The ground slowly acquires a nurse’s uniform.

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