Friday, March 21, 2014

Nature's Secret

When I was small I'd hold my bare arm up above my head, clench in my fist and hide my fist and fingers and pretend that my arm was the branch of a tree. A winter tree. I (and I deliberately and definitely saw myself as the real and unique me) was deep in the ground, down below, far within myself and amongst the imagined tree roots. Some strange buried spirit looking up through the ground to observe this tree from a vantage point in the soil. Sometimes I'd slip down into the darkness but still the tree stood straight, hardly moving, creaking if a strong wind passed otherwise steady all of the time. But me, now I was hanging by my shoulder from the trunk of this tree, hanging in the earth. Dark brown and crumbling earth that hardly seemed strong enough to support me or all the other trees that I imagined were there, rooted and firm on this unreliable ground. I'd peer down through the dark to see where my feet might be, where in or on earth were they? Was there support? 

Of course there was none, I was hanging from my own tree arm and the particles of earth and soil were orbiting around me, swirling in a mass like starlings or blackbirds and somehow holding firm. A motion of perpetual stillness frozen into an illusion. These pieces oozing together to hold the woodland and grass and habitat and walkers and wild flowers altogether above. They lived there on my surface in complete peace while it wrestled and squirmed in this black and moving quicksand. No one knew that I was struggling. My hand and arm were still a tree. There was no waving or waggling fingers, no sign language. Just a tree standing there while, all the while, I drowned below. The voices of the passers by were heard, the polite or rough conversations but I stayed silent. I couldn't give the game away. What would they do if they should ever discover the true nature of the trees in the forest and how unreliable the earth below their thoughtless feet might be? Nature's secret was always safe with me. One day I shall be rewarded.

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