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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It is wintertime. Although the earth is frozen and seemingly barren, curious little cultivators plant unseen seeds with knit-mittened hands. Snowmen and angels, nurtured by innocent fingers, rise from the ground like annual flowers beneath a sunless sky. After day-long outside labor, the children retire to kitchens and hearths to remember the warmth of their own forming, the wombs in which they were once knit.
There is a house on Porter St. where a child is engulfed by blankets in the warmth of a hearth—the heart that pumps life into the ice-encrusted brick and mortar of the New England home. It is a boy, towheaded and drowsy. The blanket is an old brown and white afghan given to his parents on their wedding day some fifteen years ago. In his hands is a book. It could be the Chronicles of Narnia, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, the Hobbit, or a collection of Calvin and Hobbes comics. He reads and collects memories, as the stories of hobbits, Olympians, a stuffed tiger, and a great lion become indistinguishable from his own.
Every day is a symphony.
The first movement opens with a shrill beepbeepbeepbeep beepbeepbeepbeep beepbeepbeepbeep, followed by the rustling of sheets, the rustling of clothes, a fountain, a flush, a backpack’s zipper, and the squeak of a door being closed slowly as to not awaken the roommate who woke up with the first beepbeepbeepbeep but is kind enough to pretend that he is still asleep. Rubber-soled shoes squeak on linoleum and patter on stone. The pattern of the patter is altered as staircases are descended. A silent door is opened and for the first time a low murmuring of voices can be heard.
The tenor opens his mouth in a brief solo.
A lower voice responds.
Silverware jingles and plates clink. A chair scraping against the floor marks the end of the first movement. The soloist sits down to breakfast.