Megan, let’s climb trees. The Norway Maple with the solid arms, just enough room for me to perch in the crotch. There is sediment in that little space, bugs she says. It’s fine, let’s climb it anyway! That course bark is like Mother Earth scratching away my worries. Let’s be birds, Megan! I see them in these trees sometimes and when I hear them in the mornings my whole life is lovely. Do you understand it, Megan? This can be our home!
Scrape your knees and let your fingers find their way over those wide branches. Those higher branches are too smooth, we’ll fall, she protests. Grip with your scraped knees! Your inner thighs will bear the lines of Mother Earth being too rough a lover but that’s ok. Your shirt can get dirty, I’m too young and selfish to care if your mother will scold you for the rips and tears and dirty parts. Let’s climb trees!
In pines the smell of sap makes me feel like I’ve been alive forever. Don’t you think we once climbed trees together? Maybe long ago in Transylvania we wore dresses almost as rough as this bark here. Maybe we hoisted them up and clung to trees like our animal ancestors did even longer ago, in western Africa, when people first began. I bet maybe we were there too, Megan. I bet we were primates then. Are we still primates? I think they say not in Sunday school but let’s pretend we are. If you don’t want to be a bird we can be monkeys. Let’s climb trees!
Let’s make a squashed up O with our two legs and cling to the branch that way while our hands hold tuna sandwiches with pickles and mayonnaise and soft bread. It’s too mushy for me but I’ll pretend I like it because your mother made it. Put your cheek on the branch. The bark stays cool even when it’s hot and the sun turns our cheeks pinks and puts rays of sunshine through our hair. Sometimes I think it’s whispering. It’s telling me secret things about forever and about the way time stops when you’re up high. If we had a clock up here I’d show you. It really does, I promise. It’s never time to go home.
Let’s talk about boys and bras and foreign things and tell me what Trista told you about sex. Is that really how it is? Climb a little higher with me, don’t be so scared. You’ve got braces on your teeth and they show when you smile and when you’re a little scared too. I can tell you’re scared but I don’t want to go inside. Let’s be here in the tree all morning. Ok, I’ll climb down with you. Only because you’re my friend.
Let’s go back in the tree, you with your too-big feet in boy’s shoes and me with my fat toes naked like always. I like the hot cement on my bare toes. It makes me feel like a wild animal in the desert. Come, let’s spray each other with sprinklers until we’re both mad at each other and then lay on the hot cement like scorpions. If I was a scorpion I would want to be by one of those cactus flowers, where the pink is so pink it doesn’t even look real. Come on Megan, let’s go pick flowers and make a potion! We can do it at my house, fill buckets with pretty things on the patio. Let’s go!