In a Tree

The winter earth resisted as I jabbed it with a spade, intent on planting in it a seed I found in my pants pocket. I dig a hole, just inches deep—a frigid little grave—and placed in it the seed I found and covered it with dirt and snow. I didn’t think that it would grow.

A year passed and I saw something poking through the snow. Skeletal and drooping low, a sprout was growing from the place I left the seed. Bending down I saw its leaves, pale, ivory things. I thought it best to leave it there, unhindered by my nurturing hands that tend to not really be of much use in a garden.

The sapling grew for twenty years into a pale tree that bore no fruit that I could see hanging from its branches. In fact, it seemed completely dead through seemingly alive. Its leaves were but veins without any formal shape. Its branches sagged like party streamers dampened by the fog that settles in the night after a party.

No birds ever stopped to rest between its branches. No squirrels scampered round its trunk. Dogs looking for a place to lift their legs always passed it by. I saw a sky-grey cat staring at it once, but that was only once.

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A few years ago I opened the blind on a window in my house. I looked out and, now and then, someone would look in. Before lunch the sun would shine through the window, warming a patch of the cold linoleum floor. Like a dog I sat basking in the light. It was good.

I opened the blinds on the windows in other rooms in my house, leaving each room a porthole to the sun. Through them I saw the birds in the trees and through them the neighbors could see me seeing them and we would wave as if our eyes happened to meet by chance. Then we would return to our work and play. It was good.

I went through my house and opened the blinds on all of the windows in every room—tore them open. Beams of light shot into my house, Swiss-cheesing it like bullets riddling their paper target or laser motion detectors in a Saturday morning cartoon museum. Downy tufts of grass sprouted in the kitchen where the sunlight struck the floor, then in my bedroom, then in the living room, the vacant guestroom. It was good. Continue reading