About the Trees

The whole time, sitting there listening to the scream of the wind, listening to the demonic applause of the rain on our roof, I was worried about the trees.

 

I was ten when I wrote my first serious poem. It was called "The Tree" and it didn't rhyme. I have kind of caught on to a pattern since then, and mostly have noticed it recently, of trees playing roles in my writing and even my life. "The Tree" was really quite sad and it's written with a tree as the narrator. I'm sure my mom has copies. I should ask her. A Friend to Outlive, my favorite of all my short stories is named for a tree. When I was thirteen I used to go into the woods by my house and talk to them. I wrote and recorded a song once called "American Lime" which referred to a tree. There were lots of other arborial themes in my writing that elude my memory at the moment. I think there has just always been something comforting about trees to me. Even when they are dead and withering or fallen they are somehow beautiful.

In Hawaii in '82 when hurricane Eva came through and knocked out our power for a week (we were lucky because we lived on a Marine base, most of the island was blacked out for three weeks or longer) I thought the palm trees looked strange without fronds on them and the coconuts all over the place. Sitting in the middle of the house with my sister until midnight was fun because we got to stay up late and didn't understand the danger. My dad came home from work to change his uniform, which was drenched, and had to nail the back door shut because it wouldn't stay closed. There was a transom window over the door and it flew open also, and it was as though someone was spraying a fire hose into the house.

The whole time, sitting there listening to the scream of the wind, listening to the demonic applause of the rain on our roof, I was worried about the trees.

I do love a good storm.

Truly.

One of my fondest childhood memories was the day after Eva. I woke up and there was three inches of water on the bedroom floor, and my dad took me in his car to drive around the base and look at the damage. He was the Provost Marshal which meant he was in charge of the military police on the base and he had a lot of work cut out for him, but seeing all the damage…I don't know, I found it fascinating. My young mind identified with the chaos I guess. There were aircraft hangars, the kind made of corrugated steel and are just big half-cyliders with doors on the front, that looked like beer cans crumpled and thrown on the ground. We saw a hot dog stand upside down on a roof.

I spoke to my father recently about it and he doesn't remember doing that with me. It's amazing how children and adults see things so differently and how we place matters of importance in such different ways. I hope I always think a little like a child. At least a little. | Joseph Watts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply