A Tree Behind Our Old House


My brother and I disagree. We drive past the house we left thirty eight years before. Out in the sunken backyard stands a tree. He says it’s the same one we knew as kids. I remember that one being taken down. He says, a new tree couldn't grow so tall so soon. But thirty eight years, I say. We drive past. Forgotten in the back seat, my mother doesn’t remember a tree, the house, the backyard, and barely recognizes her sons. She struggles to remember the man who knew these things. Tries to remember that life, the solid feeling that things don’t change. But death has always followed her. She looks through the windshield, past my brother’s angry silence, but can’t really see the intersection ahead. I hear a voice say that none of us can know how fast or slow a tree might grow up or why it ever falls. 
 

I Found A Poem In The Forest

Tucked under a rock in which there is some kind of fossil. I never studied fossils. My friend thinks I have. He talks in terms he thinks I know. But I don't understand the past. I just walk through the forest. I came here as a child. With my mother. To the darkness between things large and old. We walked this path. I'm sure though I don't remember. It has changed though it feels familiar. Then there’s the poem. Under the rock. And the fossil. It's a poem about the past. Walking in a forest with her lover. It says, your hand in mine, I taste the sap of your kiss and count the rings of love. Awful poetry. The writer walks away into the darkness. My mother walks through me. Goes another way, her eyes closed. I continue on past trees, through shade, against the breeze. Holding the rock and the poem, fossils of dead things preserved. I imagine the creature in that ancient sea, its image being left in the rock. I see the woman lay down her pen, sleep, and become paper. I see my mother still moving through the forest making a sound I no longer recognize. And again I understand that I don’t know the past and keep holding onto the wrong things for the future.