There is No Nature in the Courthouse

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-One

In the jury room, two landscapers talk loudly about ailing dogs and nitrous balloons. We have been sitting here two hours waiting for the selection process to begin. An old toilet runs in the adjacent room. Opaque windows block the July sun and any sign of life. There is no nature inside the courthouse, just a sad dark vending machine mostly empty aside from a pack of Starburst and bag of cookies. We watch a film about jury duty, which says women couldn’t serve as jurors until the 1950s. An older woman grunts. We wait until the judge says there has been a delay, so we should come back in an hour. Heat rises off the parking lot, and a breeze drifts from the bay. The hill overlooks a saltmarsh and I walk on the front lawn to admire an old maple. I read that psychoactive mushrooms are often found around courthouses in mulch under rhododendrons on account of all the drug charges. There are no rhododendrons here, just trees and a statue of Mercy Otis Warren holding up a book. I stare at Mercy and realize there is a giant osprey nest on top of the courthouse. I like the courthouse more now, and think the world would be better if animals were more involved in human affairs. I wonder what the bees pollinating the linden flowers would think of our dramas and sterile justice buildings. The horse chestnut and sumac have been here for more than two hundred years, and they have seen it all.

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