Monday, August 29, 2011

An Origin Story

We had a crab apple tree in the front yard that in spring grew heavy with bitter, marble-like fruits and Gothic with awful caterpillar nests, silk clouds of milky white suspended in the trees, loathsome tents bursting with a thousand caterpillars; we'd light them on fire every year.  Before the nests would arrive, before my mom would sigh, I'd climb the tree, loving the time alone and the argument with gravity that kept me tethered to the house and the family that I wanted distance from, even as I was building imaginative houses in the tree, knowing and naming the crooked hallways, slim desks, and windows in twists of limbs and thatches of crowded leaves, here a cramped staircase of winding limbs, there a dim bay window, a clearing of branches onto the lawn and the maple tree on the other side of the yard wherein I built another house in my head, propped against a dresser of thick, brown limbs, sitting and trying to doze—guarded against the fear of falling—in a rocking chair made of sympathetic branches, a kind of L bent enough to say chair, and hold me.  This was my home's doppelganger, my tree's parallel house, a blueprint of floor and wall and roof that I drew in my head, every day up there in the trees against the fading sunlight, a dream as substantial as the structure I dreamt in.

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