A short story inspired by Australia’s very uninspiring (and horrific) policy toward refugees.
A snake wraps itself around a small lime tree, the single tree in a garden of tiny shoots of spinach. It moves, just a tiny bit, placing its head on the opposite side of a branch. Its scales catch the sunlight, revealing a kaleidoscope pattern of various shades of red, white and blue.
There is a swoosh, and with a clunk, a clumsy possum catches the trunk and scuttles upwards, finding refuge in the canopy of leaves, above the snake.
The snake lifts opens its eyes, and with a green gaze, curiously scans the leaves above. The possum pokes its tiny head through the greenery, its brown eyes wide and scared. It retreats, quickly, and the tree wobbles a little.
‘Hey, little possum!’
There is a scuttle, and a rustle.
‘Hey, little possum, don’t be scared!’
A small possum-nose sniffs its way out from its hiding spot.
‘Little possum, you are welcome here – this tree is yours as much as it is mine.’
Little possum peeps its head out, and asks, ‘In the last tree, there was a snake who told me that it was her tree, and there was no more shade – she told me that I was not welcome there. I am just looking for a new home – my last home was being attacked by termites’.
The colourful snake laughs, a deflated, sad laugh.
‘Look, little possum – I am very sorry to hear about your home, and that greedy snake in the other tree. This tree was here before I was, it is not not mine, nor yours, or anyones! It is not possible to own a tree; such a belief is constructed. So for now – this tree is ours. We can share, and there is enough space for many more’.
‘You are welcome here, little possum.’
‘But I am a possum, and you are a snake. How are we to get along?’.
‘There are not so many differences between us, little possum. We both like trees, we both like shade, we drink water, and we eat food. We may look different, little possum, but we are both small and we are both at the mercy of what the world provides for us. We can
learn to get along, my friend, and there is much that we can learn from each other’.