Trees With God In Them
January 6, 2012 § 7 Comments
By Jacqueline Austin
I didn’t have a happy childhood. But it purported to be a religious one. I was forced to go to Hebrew school several afternoons a week—plus attend services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. And I’d never had any experience of God. So one day I’m 11 years old and walking to elementary school, and there’s this maple tree? And it’s fall. So this maple tree’s leaves are all yellow and shiny gold. And its trunk is ebony black, wet and smelling salty, from the previous night’s rain. It’s the biggest tree on the block before Jessie’s block (she’s the girl who liked horses, who later became a veterinarian)—the only block in half a mile which means something to me. And it’s 7 in the morning on a very cold fall day in New York. The early sunlight is shining through every leaf, and quivering in all the puddles. And as I walk toward the giant maple with the golden leaves, suddenly the wind comes up. My hair flies into my face and then away from it, streaming behind my head. Tears start up into my eyes. And I blink up at the tree, and all the shiny leaves are quivering, and each is edged in a jagged line of gold, and the tree explodes with light and it is full of God.
So I wrote a poem that day? And I can’t remember it. But the gist of the poem was that the puddles were doorways into another world, a world the inverse of ours, which only appeared slowly, in the rain. And whenever the puddles evaporated, this other world would go away, with the people walking upside down in it, not even in Australia.
Copyright 2012 by Jacqueline Austin. All rights reserved. Reprinted with slight changes from Things That Are Wonderful 2011.