If you stand in just the right place, relax your eyes in their sockets, tilt back your head, unstick your tongue, remember your right twelfth rib, make friends with your knees and sink into the wide universe one inch under the cracked sidewalk, then a light appears behind a skull-sized ball of blooms and offers you a minute to breath.
The teacher is in his school clothes: shirt and tie and a lanyard crowded with ID and pens. He sits in the back of our house and settles into his computer-sized classroom. The kids giggle and listen and sometimes answer a question right and sometimes ask the same question twice. One after another, I hear their young voices say I’m okay. I’m okay.
The dapple doesn’t always work. But sometimes, on a street remarkably empty of joggers and families and dog-walkers, the dapple falls on the chartreuse snow and that is enough.
Beauty can be balm but beauty can be a distraction from the all-important activity of staring out the window and thinking fuck this fuck this fuck this and How do we not go back to normal?
Trees That Write Me Letters:
This tree wrote me a letter with its limbs. I want to call it a love letter, but it’s not. Or rather, it’s the kind of love letter that looks like a note scribbled on the back of an envelope and left on the table in pre-digital, pre-pandemic days.
Meeting up for happy hour. Home for dinner.
Trees that Tell Me of Past Lives:
This tree told me they were a jellyfish in another life. They missed the hug of cool water and the quick slip of skin on skin when pulsing through a crowd. They thought, after a hundred years, the longing would fade but they were happy that it hadn’t one bit.
Trees that Laugh at Me:
This tree scoffed at the idea of past lives. Shape shifting in this life was where it was at. They turned from quiet corner shade to wild ocean storm, a swirling vortex of swell and crash. And then back again. The whole time roaring with laughter.
Trees that Wish I’d Leave them Alone:
This tree wouldn’t say if they were shy and hiding in a blanket of cozy ground cover or if they were deep in a dress-up fantasy. Either way, they kept their back to me, and wanted to be left alone.
I reluctantly give up some gratitude for the fact I have nothing to do but stand in the middle of the wet, unpeopled street and take video of gangly tree limbs, bird conversations and a blanket of rain clouds.
Trees that Seduce Me:
This tree whispered things to me I can’t repeat here. Their voice was the first deep breath of ocean air after months inside the city. Their skin was a skydive and I jumped.
I ran into my old life under the dramatic sunset clouds. My old boss and his wife shared their pandemic story, I shared mine, then they invited me to pick the lilacs along their driveway. Here we are, the lot of us, still wandering up and down this hill.
I would like to be a house hugged in by wisteria. Or hidden by smoke trees. Or surrendered to ivy and honeysuckle vines. I would like to be a home for people that preferred to climb into a nest each night.
It’s lilac stealing season. And no-see-um swallowing season. And cloud watching season. Also cat imitating season. And sobbing out of nowhere season. And I think I’ll take up praying season. This is also the season of forgotten dress clothes. The season of unused kisses. And the seemingly endless season of home-sewn patience.
Puppies are being adopted at a rapid rate and kitten season’s come to the kitty jail. But around here, we’re making room for a hefty brood of baby spiders. Welcome to this world, you wee monsters. Have at it.