The tree is disappearing.
I remember seeing it for the first time, on Wednesday, glowing golden against a slate sky. I sat outside a second-floor computer lab with my back against the wall, a floor length window in front of me, watching the rain outside. Watching a beautiful tree glistening in the rain, yellow leaves shuffling in the wind. I took out my notepad and wrote him a letter that day.
Because that tree was mesmerizing.
I wrote to him about a tree. A tree. Yet the words flowed out of me as though they were never mine— like they belonged to the page all along and now they were going home. Black ink traced the sharp turns and awkward loops of my thoughts and I find myself settling into the rhythm of writing all the little things that came into my head.
Later, he thanked me for my letters.
Later, I saw the tree again, having lost half its leaves overnight.
Later, still, I think about sitting in front of the same window, watching the same tree in the same rain on the same afternoon.
So many people grow old to grow wise. They grow remembering mistakes, remembering not to make the same mistakes, remembering because to not remember one risks growing stupid. Some people live for the cause and the effect, and the journey and the end, and the root and the fruit, and many other important things I find difficult to put into words. I thought I could simplify my life like I’d cull numbers and letters in algebra, substitute a with b when a is equivalent to x, make you a function of me, or make us into a summation. What does it feel like to be the proverbial spanner in the works, I wonder? All I know is what it feels like to have a rip spanning every compartment of my ordinary little life, and not knowing how to seal it shut. I’ve lived my life hoping to grow old to grow wise. I’ve made mistakes and remembered them all, I’ve remembered for fear of becoming stupid and now I’ve found that the rules I’ve lived by no longer make sense. Some people blur the lines for others, some people tear through other people’s lives— sometimes even parts of their hearts, and these some people are the ones who challenge us to reinterpret what had been taken for granted all this time. Some people break others because they themselves are too broken, it’s almost scientific the way their brokenness seeps into others, along an osmotic gradient no one got around to calculate and graph. These people blow card-houses to the ground, makes the ground spin beneath our feet and at the end of it all we don’t know which side is up and which side is wrong. How do I build my world back from ground zero again? How would I bear its loss?
I wanted to write a song. Something I’d hum under my breath when I’m all alone. I haven’t a pick, and my guitar is out of tune; I don’t need to strum to know. I hear it groaning on—
I’ve developed a craving for the suffix -scent:
I wanted to put bright words into my mouth and chew them and swallow them and burn like a star.
I fall out of love in pieces, piece
by piece. There are no particulars, nothingness
owes no obligations. A liberation
I tell myself this is all I have to bear for now words
and snapshots are enough: soft
hair curling above the nape, an overwhelming
vulnerability I’d lay my lips upon, fractured;
piece by piece. Refractions of fear—
faceted splinters of loss weeping, no
I mean sweeping its cool fingers across my
bareness I recall only fragments, flickers of light
Scallops of sun caught in a wintery
lambent sea the colour
of eyes the shape
of moons turning and dawning, piece by piece.
I forget again, remember again, the way
another’s mind seeps into one’s own
lamented breakages occur, too, piece
by piece an orchestra,
amassing sighs and sounds of clean,
I’d drink to that I would something that’s
something clean, for a change.