Here is a little something that I revived in honor of Earth Day, which was on Monday:
She is different from the others and we – our boughs already weighted with the bounty of a pleasant spring – tremble with the ragged confusion of what does not seem right.
It rained again today and our full limbs are heavy. Each round, green berry wrapped in prismatic droplets that have become a cold blanket over the whole once floral bunch. The sunlight touches us in different shades of green and yellow-green and deep brown green. This early morn the color darkens toward our leftmost side, against our olive-brown trunks and we gaze out toward her, hoping that she will come. We long for the touch of her hand to shake the liquid crystals free, to allow the sun to warm our ripening berries; to save against the touch of ice that we will be against her skin, but she does not move and the bruised and aching sense of wanting gathers in a rumbling knot inside. They will not let her come… those living.
They gather by the fence in their multitude, spectators, all; driven to witness what once was. The wood is old, old flesh. It was aged when it was cut and now is cracked and pitted with many holes where the wind and rain have weathered its surfaces; cut logs, split and stacked to make the line that turn through angles – like the passage of time – the ends visible, like steps, snapshots that they still cannot see. She stands, waiting, one hand on the nobbled edge at the far-most end of the enclosure.
Still they do not see her. Years of watching have shown us this, and yet, she will not move if they are turned her way. We need her touch. Our leaves hang long against the outside of the berries, sticking to their chilled, cherub curves, and spill their larger drops to the ground. If the wind pulls at them, they stretch away, only to slap back like rubber resin, as if they should be molded to the gathered, rounded nubs, but cannot quite take their shape. They are too heavy; heavier than even our limbs can hold, and cold, even though the weak sun seeks to warm them.
We know that if still wet, when sunlight reaches them, the green will turn too fast to rosy-red; a halfway house to the deep dark blood of winter, so we NEED her touch! We try to distract ourselves with thoughts of other things, but our whispers to her in summoning, in promise that she cannot be seen and the questions beating like a drum within us return: Why won’t she come-why doesn’t she hear us? Why doesn’t she HEAR US!
At last she moves. Her color, like the wood of the nearby railing, has faded through the years, graying with age that is so counter to her agelessness. She is youth, while the wood against which she stands shows through her, like the bones of an old man. Slowly she weaves a path around the L-shaped logs, bypassing those more solid than herself as if she fears to touch them. Her fear is not there to see, and yet it dominates our already frustrated senses, like the view we have of our end of the fence, so close that the scored and cracked and pitted roughness of its edge is all that we see in sharp relief against the softness of the scene around us. We can even count the rings of the once living wood, like the rings of time itself.
Her path around the living takes her further from us, toward the green of the other nearby trees, just beyond the turn of the enclosure. Their vibrancy is contrast to the muted colors that consume our sight. Their leaves spread over the surrounding ground and the one young woman whose eyes reflect the lively wash of color. When she touches the woman, even the sunlight, filtering through the scene becomes more white-green than yellow. The ghost-girl smiles and the young woman’s expression follows hers – joy becomes reflected in the living face. They move from beneath the tree, whose thicker branches reach to shield the green and brown ground with shadows. Leaves, denser on the side that does not fall over the enclosure, dapple the earth where the soil shows through in patches. Not solid shade that might be expected, but piebald with the same white-green sunlight, exposes the softly imaged blades of grass. As below, so above… the ghost-girl, not solid, lends the living woman an otherworldly hue, speckled with the Earthlight soul of the one with whom she shares. They move away from the regimented row of trees several feet away, and come to us at last… salvation.
Their hands reach as one, run through the reddening berries, and our skin prickles. Our limbs shiver as they brush away the rubbery wrapping of leaves, lifting the weight of rain from our dripping heads. The droplets fall with a crystalline, yet muted splash to the ground… music of nature… passage of time. Their soft fingers, warm like blades of grass, kissed by the spring sun are as velvet. They run, invited, over our berries’ puckered skin just as the sun climbs to a loftier height and warms us with its light. Between them, the living, the light and the spirit lift away the clinging cold, gifting their warm and supple touch, bringing back our weightlessness in return for the mass of droplets that now pool in the creases of the living woman’s dress, and the sun-dappled ground beneath the ghost-girl’s feet. I become light and warm once more.
Yet… one last, rolling touch of icy diamond wetness descending through the warmth remains; a pit-pat sound; remnants of morning rain tapping on the aged wood at our side. The living move away – the touch of time can hold them but so long before they are drawn to leave the natural history of this colony town. The woman and the girl separate, but words reach us. They are whispered on the wings of the breeze and echo from the temporal moment captured in what remains here:
She walks in time and spring rain and she will never abandon you.