After hatching, a baby marine iguana
emerges from the sand alone.
Others have died in the embrace of waiting racer snakes
their spines and skulls lay exposed to the sun
after the snakes have moved on.
The marine iguana is born into a world of peril.
Exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development.
Its dinosaur eyes cannot see the shore
but something drives the lizard out and
carefully he makes his way over the rocky sand.
But the snakes are waiting, their heads raised at attention
countless numbers of them—the stuff nightmares are made of—
and then they strike.
In some Kentucky schools, 90% of the student population lives in poverty.
The iguana runs as fast as it can
its long, clawed fingers flying over the sand.
But the racer snakes are fast and there are so many.
They strike. Three of them coil the long muscles of their bodies around him.
He struggles, but they are so strong.
The iguana moves a fraction of an inch as the snakes start to squeeze.
Some educators have acknowledged an increasing need for training in trauma-informed care.
Miraculously, he slides from their grip
and takes off toward the sea as they lay in a knot.
But still there are more and they strike
one after another after another
as the iguana scrambles up boulders.
They lunge at him, but their bodies fall heavy on the rocks below.
It is possible to reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress in children.
Finally he makes it to the sea where adult iguanas lay in the sun as the surf sprays them with saltwater.
He is one of the few that survive.