taking a walk in a field i found a snake about to molt, wedged between two rocks. carefully i crouched down next to her and watched her efforts to escape her old skin. the wind was gently breathing over the field, above us some birds chattering idly, then they withdrew. in the ensuing silence i heard a gentle whisper.
“i am liquifying the space between my new skin and my old, waiting for the right moment to leave behind one skin and assume the next. i feel new scales glittering under the brittle parchment i am about to leave. i have always enjoyed the moment when it was time to withdraw from the old serpent‘s confinement and greet the light again.
how many times i have done this? i do not remember. i do remember, however, my previous incarnations quite clearly still but there is no sentimentality towards them. i do not dislike them but they are alien to me even though the pattern my scales imprinted on the left behind skins is unmistakably mine. if necessary, i address my past manifestations respectfully and formally the way i would greet a stranger – but i prefer to acknowledge them with a glance and a nod only whenever i chance to happen upon an old skin adopted by some harmless creature as a clever disguise, and I silently slide by.
i don’t remember sliding out of my first skin and i am sure i will not keep a memory of my last one either. someone has told me they are the same, first and last. i listened with polite interest as snakes do. that means i did not listen, you know that.
i am liquefying the space between my old skin and my new one. my new scales glitter under the brittle parchment of my old skin as i am about to give birth to myself once again.”
and with these words she freed herself. for a moment i could admire her jewel-like new incarnation and she held still as if to allow it. She lifted her head ever so slightly and for a moment met my eyes. Then, with a glance and a nod, she disappeared – fast as lightning into a hidden crevice between the two rocks and left me shuddering and brittle.