“The grasshopper, the hawk, and the squash vine” by Felice Sea Wyndham
She sat under the plum tree. Gobs of sap had oozed out of the trunk in spots and dried into clear purplish lumps. This garden behind the wattle and daub washroom was overrun with squash plants. Their vines reached up into the lower branches of the plum tree, cascades of orange trumpet blooms along their lines of growth. She had come to feed Henrietta a fat grasshopper, just caught in the long dark green grass in front of the barn. It squirmed in the space between her hands and she checked to make sure there were no gaps between her fingers through which it could squeeze. She could feel the sharp rasp of its chitin feet in the creases of her palm. After releasing the insect into the hawk’s expansive inverted-pyramid cage, she stayed, watching the delicate fierceness of Henrietta’s snack: the cock of her head to fix the hopper in sight, the easy glide down from a high perch, the grasping of the bright green body in one claw, the curve of her beak slicing through and tossing back first the insect’s head, then the rest of it, thorax, legs.
Sitting on her haunches quietly, unmoving, as she knew the bird preferred, she placed her index finger close to an outstretched tendril of a squash runner, touching its light greenness, the underbelly of its curl. She thinks if she can stay still long enough, the tendril will wrap itself around her finger and hold on. She’s not sure she has the patience, but she considers herself to be in training for being still, so she sits there without moving. Henrietta wipes her beak from left to right on the bark of her perch, and from right to left, cleaning off a drop of grasshopper juice and part of a leg, which drops to the bottom of her cage. Invisibly, very slowly, over the next forty minutes her finger is taken into the delicate embrace of the squash tendril. When it had barely wrapped itself around her forefinger she was quietly exultant—she had convinced this plant that she, an ambulatory, unreliable animal, was a good support for its slow growth! Then, unwilling to pry herself free of the light green grasp so long in the making, she felt a flicker of panic. How to get out of this contract? Two of the adults drove up to the house at that moment, tires crunching the gravel, closing their car doors and calling out their hellos. Without even deciding to, she stood up, unceremoniously breaking the grasp of the squash, and walked away from the bird in its cage and the vines covering the ground.
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Felice Sea Wyndham’s Artist Statement: Jewel-like moments of growing up in rural Uruguay, preserved, tarnished, and re-worked by all the days that have followed.
Felice Sea Wyndham is a writer, ethnographer, and researcher currently living in Athens, Georgia. She grew up in Uruguay, and returns to the landscapes of the
Southern Cone whenever she can.