musing on trees

spring rains make the garden look and feel amazing. stuff is budding now in crazy ways. when calvin is feeling up to it (he's been mostly horizontal the last three days) it's nice to get outside with him among the birds and shrubs and trees. he enjoys feeling them (and sometimes tries to eat them.)

i've been musing for awhile on trees. since i was probably two or three. hiding in and among them. making forts at their feet, boats from their bark, hats with their leaves. i've always felt as if they're my friends, even naming them when i was a kid. they're often on my mind. here in maine—especially during this pandemic—they're mostly what i see. every window of this house is a frame for trees.

like us, they're strange and amazing—the way they nurture and speak with each other. survive. thrive. suffer. die. the fact they come from seeds. like us, they worship the sun, reach to the sky, look out over the sea. grace is in their twists and turns and branching fractals, not unlike our nerves, arteries, veins, capillaries. grace is in the way they age, and in their autumn brilliance and diaphanous masses of rose and chartreuse green. in their fragrant flowers of spring. in the way light moves through their transparency.

whether growing solo or in thickets at the edge of cliffs or fields, wading in marshes, or washing up naked on beaches, their magnificence is at once revealed. gorgeous, even amid decay and disease, in their falling, scorching and rotting. caked with moss and lichen, their boughs splintered and snapped off into stumps, they appear no less majestic.

burning trees become satin-black carbon. white-hot, blue and amber flames curl and crest across their bark and meat. red embers glow and pop from inside their hollows. not unlike my father's, their powdery-gray cinders feel gritty between my fingers. like us, trees scar and swell and break and crack and bleed. their stresses are apparent. i can relate.

gorgeous canopies shelter, cool and shade. calm our anxieties. help us to breathe. trunks and limbs rubbing against each other squeal and groan as if mortal. trees whisper as winds rush through their needles and leaves. drop your gadgets and listen. they've been sage and sanctuary for millennia, for insects, birds and mammals, and to kids who climb, like me.

pine. maple. oak. cherry. pear. magnolia. spruce. chestnut. ash. beech. dogwood. fir. apple. redbud. birch. willow.

without trees, i'm not certain who or how or where i'd be.


certain miseries

I meant to post something about trees—gorgeous, majestic, budding ones. Instead, I'm writing about certain (particular and reliable) miseries.

At eight-thirty p.m., while watching a film, we hear our son's seizure scream, the one that begins every one of his grand mals. It's a shriek worthy of horror flicks and, like so many things about my son, unnerving. I had seen the fit coming in his day's mania and refusal to eat, his hot skin and flushed cheeks, his near inability to poop and pee. After it ends, I slip into bed with him. Michael pulls the blanket over us. With my arm around Calvin's waist, in the dark I begin to think and dream.

While lying there, I lament our miseries: my son's brain anomaly; his inability to speak; his difficulty seeing; his unbridled staring at the sun; his akathisia; by far and away, his seizing; our inability to travel freely. I dream of being able to leave—this reality, this house, this town, this country. I wish I were out on Pennellville or Rossmore roads right now (or a similar road in, say, Italy.) I wonder what it's like there at night, the half moon rising from behind a bank of trees, the inky sky sparkling with stars in a way unlike the well-lit skies in town. Perhaps I'd see mackerel clouds passing by. I imagine myself standing in the dark at a rise in the road overlooking the familiar rolling hills, my eyes adjusted to see all, my ears keen to every sound. Perhaps there'd be a ghostly mist blanketing the fields. Alone there, might I be afraid or consoled? Who might I see at such a time on these lonely roads? Childfree folks? Other wandering fathers or mothers? No one at all? I'll likely never know.

I think of the movie we'd been watching called Rage, with its actors' vivid renditions and their vibrant backdrops. Calvin's might be indigo or orange. What color would mine be? Electric pink? Burgundy? Denim blue? Acid green? Which one best matches my emotions? I tear through all of them—rage, desire, anxiety, fear, dread, discontent, hope, despair, shame, love, gratitude, joy, contempt. I feel them deeply. Perhaps more so because of Calvin, but what do I know?

At ten-thirty p.m., I give Calvin a prophylactic half syringe of CBD. At two a.m., again he seizes. I don't think the CBD caused the fit, but it surely didn't prevent it. Afterwards, he becomes agitated, incessantly rubbing his fingers together and patting surfaces in his bed. He throws an elbow into my throat. Picks up and pounces on my chest. Drops his full weight into my quad with his knee; I think of George Floyd, immediately regretting any self-pity.

At three-forty-five, I give Calvin his morning THCA and leave him alone to toss and turn so I can get some much-needed sleep. I close my eyes and dream of people loving me.

This morning, Calvin's breath smells foul. I wonder if it's blood from biting his tongue or cheek. With him in my lap on the faded green couch, I look outside to a white sky. I wonder where the clouds are headed. For now we're housebound. Calvin spends hours getting on and off the couch, patting its edges, reaching for me. He's not drinking, not eating, not seizing. He's going nowhere but in miserable circles. The metaphor is not lost on me.