“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


lesson 1. again.

a tree fell last week. the across the street one that stood next to the tulip tree. a neighbor tells me it was a sugar maple, but he could be wrong.  he tells me lots of things and i take most of them with a grain of salt, but he's often surprisingly right, so who knows? not i, but i will take him at his word this time. it was the 2nd part of a tree, it being one of those double-trunked trees, at one time spreading like a V from the ground up.  the first part fell a long while back.

the tulip tree had bloomed and was covered in pink flowers, the ground beneath it a pink shadow of fallen blossoms, and so i looked that way more than usual. it is just past the hackberry that stands in our yard, part of my everyday view.  my breakfast partner.  and for weeks it - the sugar maple - had been signalling a goodbye. something would catch the corner of my eye, a small movement, a sigh, something, something - how do i know what it was, mere mortal that i am? - and i would look up to find the tree still. silent. weathering the remains of winter.  and i would return to my cheerios or my book, feeling odd, uneasy.  silly.  a little crazy, especially after 3 or 4 weeks of somethings. i mentioned it to no one.

i swear this to be true.

it was always something near the ground, at the ground, that hint of movement, that wave of adios. at the scar where once its other half was attached. i always looked again, and sometimes it happened again, quickly, catching my eye again in a second, but always, always, it stood still when i turned. sometimes days would go by and i would forget, and then. again. a something of a movement. a squirrel's tail, i would tell myself, circling the trunk. a leaf, i would think, blowing in the cold wind.

in truth? a long goodbye. a slow beginning to the end.  last week i came home to find it sprawled across my neighbor's open yard, half the tulip tree gone also.  and i knew at last it had been falling for weeks.

today the tulip tree stands smaller, but stands.
the sky is clouded white.