Monday, August 30, 2010

tree (fragment)

He shouldn't have been driving. He shouldn't have been, but he had to get out of that infernal jungle.

A family of Cyrilla trees in his headlights – Cyrilla racemiflora, mammoth bastards – seen through the thick cloud of dust after a sudden stop. Let's start here. The guide was snoring loudly in the backseat of the Jeep, and Harlan's chin was resting on the steering wheel. He was staring, half-dazed, half-crazed, with bloodshot eyes at the bark of one great tree in particular.

Zoom in. Thousands of giant black ants, maybe even millions, crawled up and down, marching through the deep grooves etched into the thick skin of this ancient tree. He was seeing everything. He bloody well saw it all. Every god damned ant, every woody rut, every bead of sap – his eyes picked up every detail.

The excruciatingly slow dripping of this tree's lifeblood. Its slight sway in the wind. Roots shallowly worming their way through the ground. Having already spent more than eight hundred of its predetermined thousand or so years, this tree's life yawned, stretching slowly, as it prepared to enter the era of gradual decline. Harlan felt he was there at the planting of a tiny seed. He felt he had been there for important moments along the way. He felt he had always been there, and would be there at the end.