“The Overstory” is already blowing the top of my head off, in much the way that “Lincoln in the Bardo” did. Grace, Mo, Alden, Maureen, and Deb have all led me to it.
One of the prompts at the AWA writing retreat in August came from the opening page. I think you’ll swoon to read the lines, too:
… The tree is saying things, in words before words.
It says: Sun and water are questions endlessly worth answering.
When I find what I wrote, I’ll post it, even though as I recall it was a bit opaque. In the meantime, scroll down for a response to another prompt that mentions the 250+ year old copper beech that dwells next door.
Can you imagine all that this beech has witnessed? The household secrets, the stirring of war and war again, the native people who may have honored it and perhaps also drank at the spring which once (supposedly) offered cool respite nearby. People with pox, barn fires (our house and its charred beams), orphans and the enslaved, tavern owners and farmers (the Bartletts at the corner).
The Jacksons who built the house in the 1700’s witnessed the early, young days of the tree’s life. Maybe it was the tree that inspired one owner to bequeath the house to an illegitimate daughter. Such things were not done!
Ghosts have been noted. A smithy and a soldier hanging in a closet. Not here but next door.
This little untitled poem by me mentions the tree.
She flipped the french toast,
vanilla fumed, and twisted to
a morning made of thread
and diary, made of weeds along the
road — dandelion and chickweed —
and a sun that glared
through the copper beech.
This time of year leafery,
cotillion, cockswaddle, and
steak. We could be made
of spores and engineered
lumber, but find ache
and patchwork inside instead.
How his back moves
down the road. She, off
with the dog down another.
Was there no plan to map
the distances, to cloud
handshakes and rollovers
with sleep or with taking
out the trash?
And how about Yellow?
Primroses flat, then yarrow, regal.
Soon the pansies made of
sugar and sunlight bought by
the flat will land while the dog pulls
away, scents of cow dung
and denim rot irresistible.
She left the dowels at the store.
The quilt unhung for another
week. Made of forgetfulness,
inclined toward suspense, turning away
not gathering up, and a scold
If only the oceans lingered
near the driveway, instead
of maple tree detritus
and scum bubbles of tar.
Meanwhile, an unintended consequence of a rheumatologist’s advice last week to “be active like you were ten years ago,” led to bravado in the garden and a back with more pain than I’ve ever experienced. Chiropractor at three. PT beginning within the week. K even stayed home today because yesterday I could barely get up the stairs or into bed. I’m much better now.
In other news: it looks like I have enough people for my first writing class. I’m so excited!
What do you think of my name: “Page by Page?” It’s a little bit like Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird,” but not critically enough to foreclose my usage.