She is on her knees in the garden. The sun, as of yesterday, an hour early. There are no dead snails in the saucers of beer, though she has finally seen the pale-yellow cabbage butterfly. Searching the half-eaten mustards and turnips, she looks for the caterpillars and their eggs as if she were inspecting a child for lice. Extracts the first, hiding along the stem of the most mature start. Studying its curl on her finger for a breath, perhaps peering its translucence to judge it female, before she presses. Leaf by leaf plant by plant until her fingertips are dirty with the mess.
A car has downshifted to work its way up the private road below. She raises on her knees, wipes the mulch-stained sweat from her temple with the knuckle of her thumb. She may have seen the leather he keeps on his wrist. In any case, she has seen enough to trot the steps to the kitchen door without exhale, wash the stick from her hands at the utility sink.
Ricardo Wilson is an assistant professor of English at Williams College and the author of An Apparent Horizon and Other Stories and The Nigrescent Beyond: Mexico, the United States, and the Psychic Vanishing of Blackness. His fiction and critical writing can be found in, among other spaces, 3:AM Magazine, Black Renaissance / Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, CR: The New Centennial Review, Crazyhorse, and Stirring.