I saw snake tracks in the Sahara.
They criss-crossed the dunes, thick lines and thin lines, zig-zagging back and forth.
Snakes (and critters of all kinds) were our thing. Whenever we walked through the woods we’d never get far before stopping to overturn rocks or decaying logs to look for the myriads they concealed. We discovered bugs and toads and salamanders (red striped and yellow spotted) and snakes. I still look for frogs whenever I’m near water; because of you, I can catch a bullfrog in my hands.
I saw snake tracks in the Sahara and you (therefore I) would have loved to watch their creation.
They criss-crossed the dunes, winding and straight, up slopes and over crests. Where were they traveling in the night? Why did they go so far?
I saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life — remember the bug-catching kits I had when I was small? Little domed houses with mesh roofs and magnifying glasses built in. I’d fill them with grass and bark and dirt and stones, cozy little habitats for the temporary citizens that I captured and observed. Spiders never bothered me, but I was terrified of this one.
Someone saw a scorpion but before I could it disappeared into the endless sand and the black, black night.
You would have loved that night. It put the sky in New Hampshire (over the lake where we caught bullfrogs with our hands) to shame. You (therefore I) loved the night sky. You always paid attention to the events unfolding up there. You knew when there would be a meteor shower or a super moon or an eclipse. I remember when you bought that big telescope. All we ever really looked at was the moon.
The crescent moon hung low over the dunes, the color of aged paper, but it was outshone by the stars.
Stars like I have never seen, Dad. The silvery band of the Milky Way dragged across the inky darkness like the shed skin of one of the snakes that left criss-crossing tracks across the dunes. Shooting stars streaked past, so ephemeral I hardly knew if they were real. Millions upon millions more stars dusted the sky and the sky seemed so close, seemed to swallow me up.
And early in the morning the fat orange orb of the sun crept over the dunes, banishing the stars from the sky. You were a morning person, you (therefore I) would have loved that early morning sunrise.
I saw snake tracks in that pale, early morning light in the Sahara, and I thought of you.
featured photo credit: Ellen Asermely