Monday, June 26, 2006


All night long, the trees have been writhing, quarreling, pushing and shoving, showering down leaves and twigs, pacing back and forth in their narrow lanes between the sidewalks and the streets. They stop me to earnestly explain things in their whispery voices. When I can't understand them they become agitated. They shiver and sway and complain.

I go walking beside them, trying to explain in my turn, but my mouth is all full of a huge, meaty tongue; saliva drips from my mouth, but no words will come out. The trees moan in frustration, fretting the bark of their limbs together. I want to reassure them, but they point at my mouth and shudder. I realize I'm soft and repulsive to them, as a slug might be to us, and that my huge tongue is for them the crowning horror. I want to explain to them -- it's not always like this, I don't know why it's this way, this isn't how people usually are -- but I can't get intelligible words past it, only slaverings and grunts come out, and the trees crowd away from me, muttering in alarm.

At dawn they get quieter, and knowing they will not be awake long, I kneel down in the muddy track -- they've churned the ground all up with their roots -- and I try to draw them pictures in the dirt. They all lean over, shaking their heads. Slowly my tongue shrinks, and their movement dwindles. I make as if to stand up, but I find my knees have take root, tendrils run out from them far under the sidewalk, under the street; there are little trickling waterways down there that they find with delight. Now my tongue is gone. I can only whisper and sway. The talk of the trees is almost intelligible to me now, but even as I understand them their voices die away into a faint murmur. With a sigh I lift up my arms. It's more comfortable that way. As the morning gathers around us, my fingers grow longer, split, grow longer still; and then without warning they burst into leaf.

No comments: