April 29, 2007

Impossible Trees


Spring is the only time of year when it is safe to treasure everything, even the profane. Our devotion spends like money, and by the end of the year we have just enough to keep ourselves and our families warm; in the early months it spends in streamers and runs out of pockets like sand. The exuberance is a survival mechanism-- this mad old world has to grow higher and higher each year to unbury itself from the last's revelry and waste, and so the trees are a little bit taller than they ever thought possible, and we stay up later than is wise, just to hold our ground.

Impossible Trees

Every year around this time I feel like an impossible tree, growing downward instead of upward. Tunneling down with roots, stretching back through the layers of dead years so that I can soak up all I can from them, sinking experimental taproots below what I have any business remembering, touching the faces of my ancestors with blind fingers with the vain hope that when these sensations reach the surface, they will inform my growth in a way that mere sun and wind can't.


Over time, this misdirection of energy has left me struggling to breach the crust anymore: a few fretful limbs straining, spurting out disturbingly bright blossoms from the ends like distress signals. My bones are here in the sun, while my heart and my canopy of nerves swell and infiltrate below, buckling sidewalks and laying claim to the city beneath the city. It's frightening to me how fast the world around you can grow up over your head and retire you once and for all among only those of a certain kind, from a certain time or place. Or how a reflection can become so alluring that one never strays beyond the eye of a mirror. If ever there was a time to push myself up and out of what is knowable and concrete, it is now.


These walks, where no one is watching, through places where neglect has been hard at work replacing civilization with nightmares, and those nightmares with soft consoling green fingers. These dreams, in which I travel every night from state to state, from home to home, passing out pieces of myself to people that are just sketches of loved ones real and imagined; from which I sometimes awake in helpless tears. These landscapes which seem imaginary until one day when I find myself spontaneously taking a new route home and accidentally arrive at the last human outpost before the mouth of space swallows up the world. These places of smirking solitude, where helplessness is discovered to be power, are my new territory. I have paid my dues to the underworld, and there is nowhere left to go but up, and out.


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