across from my sunroom window stands a line of dying hemlock trees. we call one of them the squirrel log, because the top is a gnawed point of trunk, the pale inner fibers sticking out like a splintered bone. a second branch hangs over where we would park a car if we kept a car here; sometimes, i'll see a squirrel on either side of the growing segment of split wood, each gnawing away, and i wonder if the one further out on the branch knows that it has the short end of the stick (so to speak).

there's a branch that hangs out in space, reaching over the sidewalk, on the property belonging to one of my neighbors. one day, i realized that the part of the branch reaching for the road is the part that used to be attached to the trunk, but that slow rot over the years had parted it from the rest of the tree. it remains locked in place by the entwined twigs that haven't yet crumbled. i always tell myself, 'you should just knock on their door and tell them about it, in case they don't know about their own personal widow-maker.'

but sometimes, i knock on people's doors, and they peer at me through the mail slot instead of opening the door and speaking to me unhindered. sometimes, i knock on people's doors, and they see me and scream, even though i'm just there to return their dog who i caught wandering half a mile away. people are suspicious of a person uninvited on their doorstep.

i've pitched my tent near trees that i could not trust, but couldn't find any flat spots that weren't near trees i could not trust. one night, when we knew there had been storms and erosion and landslides, i sat awake for a long time, listening to the crack of boulders loosened from the hillside not far enough in the distance. i have to remind myself that there's nothing i can do.

instead of knocking on my neighbor's door, i've been walking on the other side of the street.

25 February 2018 23:04

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