I Dream of This Tree



Jack and I have come up to the old cabin alone. Got here last night. Wind was up and still is this morning, rat-tat-tacking over the roof and getting through the walls, stirring up dead leaves in the corners.

Jack and I, we haven’t wasted any time. As soon as the door was shut, our clothes were coming off, and we didn’t stop until an oak bough split and landed in the yard. We jumped off each other when we heard it. Still scared.

Every time we have to go outside for water or the privy, I wonder if the storm will drop a bough on us. If it keeps up, I’ll find a bucket for us to piss in.

Jack is making eggs on Mama’s old cookstove. I can smell the oil and hear him humming something. I’m searching for wall cracks. I pass my bare arm over each bit, feel for drafts. When I find one, I stuff it with old bits of rag. This was Mama’s job once too.

“What’s that song?” I say.

He stops scraping the pan and his humming, and for a moment it’s just the wind I hear. “Don’t know,” he says, then turns, still scraping eggs. “This place is real nice. Kind of place everybody should go to sometime. Kind of place a man can really think.”

Something about this makes me look away, and I ball up more rag.

“Off alone, nobody to bother us. Go trap some supper, bring it back, cook it. The way men are meant to live.” He stops there, doesn’t mention the rest.

I’m standing on a chair now, a rickety old thing, feet spread because I don’t trust the caning, and I’m stretching up into the roof beams where a sliver of light worms in. I can’t reach it, so I pull up into the rafters and sit, send down dust and leaves.

The wind’s louder here. I smell damp. I rip off another strip of rag, wad it up, and then just at the peak, here’s a little green leaf, like it just uncurled from a bud.

“Get down, Andrew, or I’ll eat your half.”

I’ve got the stem just below the leaf between my fingers. It’s so thin, it disappears like I’m pinching air, and the leaf just hovers. Then it snaps off in my hand.

We find more. There’s six more twigs sprouted, all from the ridge beam. Pop and Uncle Wane left it a whole tree trunk running east to west along the peak. I don’t know why they didn’t use cut timber. Maybe lazy. Maybe they liked how it looked. Now that trunk is sprouting leaves.

We brave the wind, go outside. There’s dead ivy down one gable ground to roof, except now we see it’s not. It’s