Sometimes I need to clear my mind, and free myself from the grating sound of human voices. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t live in suburbia, so close to the city. Sometimes I wish that I lived in the country, or that I had a car so that I could get there, when I wanted to be there, when I needed to be there. Sometimes I need to be someplace where, when I look out at the landscape from a hill, or a bluff, I won’t see the silhouettes of buildings, or clouds of smoke, marring the sky. The sounds of airplanes, and passing motorist don’t bother me though, because all of those people are leaving, and leaving me alone.
Winter is my favourite time, and if St. Louis Missouri is lucky, there is snow. I love the brightness of a snowy sky, even when there is no sun, and how the snow is silent as it falls, and how it mutes my footsteps. When there is a thaw, the snow creeps into the shadows until it disappears, and the ground is wet and cold, but I don’t care. I will sit on the wet muddy grass until I shiver. I also love the shorter days, because then I get more time with the moon.
Trees are the most beautiful to me in the winter, because I can see them better, and I love to gaze at them, and study the contrast of their branches against the ever changing colours of the sky. Dawn and dusk are the best times for this contemplation, because it is when the sky is most beautiful.
The ground is beautiful as well, and I find things, little gifts, and treasures, like twigs curling into spirals, with fluffy seed pods on them, or little stones nestled in the damp earth that glisten and shimmer wetly as the sun shows me where they are hidden, waiting for me to find them.
Sometimes, in January, and February, here in Missouri, we have false springs, and then moss appears among the roots of the trees, sometimes creeping up the bark, and I love to put my face, and lips against that delicate greenness, and I feel refreshed.
If I find feathers, I put them in my hair, and if I’m very lucky, I find animal bones.
Once, when I was out loving the wind, and the sounds it makes, I saw a hawk. It was perched up in tree in my mother’s back yard. It had a tail of red feathers. I crept up to the tree, so I could get a better look, and the hawk saw me, and regarded me with its fierce black eyes, and then took to flight, and as it climbed into the sky, red feathers fell to the ground, and I picked them up. I have them still. I like to imagine that those feathers were a gift, and that the hawk was really a man, and he thought I was lovely, and wanted to tell me, so he gave me some of his feathers.
I imagine that the pebbles, seed pods, twigs, feathers, and other things that I pick up when I am able to go for walks where there are trees, are some kind of currency, and I put them into the hollows of certain trees that I like, and I don’t why I do this. Maybe I’m paying for the privilege of being there among Them, those benevolent shadows that I sometimes see, scurrying about in the peripheral of my limited human vision.
I have done this always, gone walking about in nature, looking for gifts and treasures. When I was a little girl, I would collect the cicada shells one finds clinging to the bark of trees during the midsummer months, and I would set them in rows, and play with them as though they were dolls, and give them names, and send them on journeys to rescue dead butterflies, which were really sleeping princesses.
I have always collected dead insects. It is something that makes me happy when I do it, and all this collection has ever cost me is a walk among the trees, and away from people. I also press flowers as well, and I have an inventory of envelopes full of all sorts of different dried flowers, with label’s on them, like elf penis, because that’s what I think that flower looks like. Sometimes, if the petals are big enough, I write words on them, and incorporate them into these multi-media collages that I like to make, because I’m an artist, you see, and my view of things is tilted at this odd angle, so that I have no choice but to see the world differently than most others, and I wonder if I’m actually an alien from another planet, or an entity from a parallel world that got trapped here on accident, and I wonder where my real family is, but whatever the case may be, I feel like I don’t belong here, so I have to make the best of things.
When I was about eleven, I found this leaf that had been devoured by some microscopic insect in such a way that the lattice work of veins within the leaf were revealed, transforming the leaf into a delicate piece of lace that no human hands could ever recreate, because nature is more talented than we could ever dream of being. I thought that leaf was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen, and I kept it secreted away in one of my journals, taking it out only when I was sad, because for some reason, just holding that sweet little thing gave me comfort. One day my older brother Jacob snatched it from me, crushing it in his fist, and he mocked me when I cried, but he was naturally a cruel sort, one of those to whom empathy could never be taught for whatever reason. He’s dead now from a heroin overdose. I don’t miss him very much, but I miss that leaf, and I have looked and looked for another one like it, but I think that was the only one that ever existed.
Once, when I was thirteen my dad lived in a neighborhood in St. Charles, Missouri that was near this little wooded area, and there was a creek, and a pond there. I would walk along the creek sometimes, and watch the water splashing over rocks that I would turn over, to see if there were any snail larva, which are interesting things; they look like little clear bits of jelly that tremble, and quiver, they are such delicate little things, and it was fun just to find them, and study them for a moment, and then I would put the rock back the way I found it. The banks along the side of the creek were clay, and I would draw spirals, and other shapes in the clay, then decorate these with stones, and little flowers. I would imagine that I was writing in a language that only the water and I knew, and maybe I was. Other times, I would climb up a little path, over the banks, and then down a little hill, and sit by the pond. Sometimes I would see a huge white water bird, and other times there would be a mist over the pond, and I would sit and put my bare feet in the cool mud if it was warm enough, and sometimes even when it was cold. I like to make my feet cold, I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know why I do a lot of the strange things that I do, other than to say that if feels like what I should do.
There were other children in the neighborhood, and they knew about the odd things I got up to in those woods, and they would ridicule me, and it hurt my feelings a lot at the time, but I wasn’t the kind of thirteen year old girl who was suddenly interested in only boys, and whatever pop trends were happening, like New Kids On The Block, because these things never felt important enough to care about, and I was terribly confused anyway, because I liked girls the way girls should like boys, though I did like the boys too. And now this is a secret that I’ve never told, but, like any teenager, I masturbated quite a lot, and my favourite place to do this was in these woods just as night was falling, and I would do it often. I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked to do this. I still do this, and it’s one of those things I do because it feels right to do it that way.
There was a large vine that twisted around a tree that I really loved in this little wood, and I always made it a point to touch this vine, and the tree, every time I walked by as a way of saying hello, and one day, there was a bubble of golden yellow sap secreting from that tree, that a large black ant had wandered into, and so died. I imagine this tree must have really liked me, to have given me something so pretty, and I had that little piece of dried yellow sap for a few years. I kept it in a blue, heart shaped earring box, along with other treasures of that ilk that I’d found while walking around and looking for places, and things that no one else notices.
My mother decided to clean my room one day, and she threw out all of my little treasures, my dead wasps, and spiders, and butterflies, and my cicada wings, and shells. I even had a dead velvet ant, which is really a wingless wasp. They are all black, with this dark red fuzz on the tops of their head, thorax, and abdomen, and they are such lovely little things, it’s like they’re all dressed up for a party, or a funeral. But my mother, she did not appreciate my collection, or me or anything about me, even to this day, but I feel like a lot of people don’t, or else why have I always been so alone, and lonely, and rejected?
So many people is this world do not appreciate things that they cannot buy; if no monetary value can be placed on a thing, then it has no value, and things that should be bought, are not valued, like art, and music. And then everything must be over processed, eternally clean and streamlined, or it isn’t beautiful. But I love chips, and cracks, and faces with lines and scars. I love the way the moon is just now waxing in my hair, and one day it will descend upon my head, and all these umber tresses will be the colour of stardust. I love the contrast of the dark soil on my pale hands from digging in the earth and wet leaves, looking for pebbles that are pretty just the way they are.
If the people around me could just be silent for a moment, and appreciate the sound of dried leaves rustling in the wind, but they don’t, they have to talk loudly about themselves, when I would rather watch the clear night sky for a shooting star, and hear that haunting symphony in my mind, because sometimes the things I see make music in my head that only I can hear, and I can’t describe it, I don’t think those notes exist, and anyway, I’m not a musician, but the music is there all the same.
There is so much inside of me. So much that I want to say, that I have to say, and I feel like its really important, but when I open my mouth to let the words out, they get stuck in my throat, and I swallow them, and then those words gnaw away at my insides. But if all the words I wanted say did come out of my mouth, who would listen to them anyway? This world seldom hears the voices of the rejected and lonely outcasts, especially when that voice is a woman’s. The sounds we make get lost in the roar of the many, and so we are silenced.
I have always been alone, and I have always been lonely. I have always felt that no one is truly listening to me, and that I have no one to talk too, and so, I tell the trees.