Over the surface

We meet halfway between her house and mine, at a swamp in spring. Turtles are huddled on clumps of pond-grass. Now and then a frog decides to try its voice. I see my first bluebird and rejoice. I look down into the murky water where a white worm is swimming, pushing hard over the surface to get to where it needs to go. For the first time in my life I feel respect and reverence for a worm and the work it's here to do. My friend begins to speak in her soft way about how she'd like her life to change. She doesn't ask for a lot but by her tone you'd think she was wishing for something far away. All she wants to be is a good decent person. Her hair sticks a little to her thin neck, like a child's at the end of a summer day. From the trunk of her car she pulls poetry, some books and a photograph of when she was a little girl in ballet. I picked her out right away. She was the one with the shy smile, the one who wasn't sure she was pretty. She was the one reaching harder and higher than all the rest.

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