The Maple Tree

August 3, 2008
By Lauren Woo, Mountain View, CA

Every time when I feel as if the whole world has positioned itself
against me, I look down, out my window and gaze below at the small
maple tree growing in my front yard. Then I look out, far across a
bare meadow and look at the tall trees that bend softly in the wind.
They are much more poised than the small maple, swaying almost
rhythmically like dancers to a tune, or piano players tapping their
feet to a symphony. I often think to myself that I am just a sapling,
like the young maple tree in my yard, but someday, I will be as tall,
strong, and poised as the trees across the meadow. The small tree in
my yard hates having to fight against the crushing pressure of the
cement that cages it in it's place. I too hate to fight against my
boundaries, which keep me in the realm of only what will happen. But
someday, like the little maple tree outside, my roots will push up
through the cracking boundary, and I will accomplish the undo-able.
Until then, I am a kite, a kite tugging against my string that will
not let me loose into the never-ending blue that is the sky. One day,
when you see a red kite floating into the distance, you will know that
I am free at last.

Everyone in my family has a different persona and with it, a
different face. My mother's face is beautiful. Not the kind of
beautiful like the ladies in the movies, but one that reminds you of a
little kid whose mouth is covered in chocolate, and whose pigtails are
strewn across their lively and smiling face. The kind of beauty that
shows not just the beauty of the person, but the beauty of life. Her
smile can light up a room like the sun high in the sky. My
grandfather has a round face, one that is constantly emanating love.
His hair is a glossy black peppered with strokes of white, seemingly
artfully drawn. He wears large glasses, which frame his large brown
eyes. His rather large stomach just adds to his similarity with Santa
Claus. My face is an oval. My face is framed by hair that is too
short and is covered in freckles, or angel's kisses, as my mother
calls them. My smile is quirky if not awkward. But my face is who I
am. I am picky. I am quirky at most times, if not awkward, and my
personality is dotted with random outbursts of love and affection that
echo the unorganized chaos of my freckles. One day, I promise myself
that I will be able to read a face so I can know about the person
before I have even met them. Books all have their own characters and
themes. and so does each person: they are just changed slightly,
instead of characters and themes, they have personalities and beliefs.
The only exception is that books are far easier than people to read.

Not many people tend to think of everyday life as a miracle, except
for me. Everyday, I wake up and look at the window to the sky. How I
long to fly up there! But everyone has a different purpose in life,
and that is not mine. My purpose is to stay with my feet on the
ground and my head in the clouds. I will forever be a wandering
spirit, native both to land, air, and water. There is nothing as
refreshing as swimming in a lake, a pool, the sea, or a river. The
water washes over your body, cleansing you, almost caressing you. You
take a large breath in and discover a world of life that is constantly
changing forms. From the air, you may look down and see the world
laid out below you like a map, or like an illustration in the
fairy-tale book that my grandpa reads to me whenever I see him. On
land, you get a perspective that is different to everywhere else. The
land stretches before your eyes, and you cannot see where it ends.
The hustle and bustle of a large city multiply sounds in your ears.
Sitting in a field, drawing and watching as a doe and her fawn eat the
brittle grasses can also cause your senses to pick up the slightest
thing, from a blue beetle making its way through the tall maze of
brown grasses to a hawk circling high in the sky. Sometimes in life
you can feel as calm as the day that you were born, staring out into
the world with eyes that lack memories. Mama says that I was born
different, silent at times, gazing out from my crib to the foreign
land out my window, and at other times screaming and running about the
house like any other child would do. I also know that I am different
from the other young girls around me. Sometimes I wear heels, put on
make-up and pull my hair back. At other times, I wear overalls and
pigtails with ribbons. Somedays I go shopping with my friends and
text on my cell-phone like a "normal" teenage girl. Other days, I go
walking in the woods, or just sit in my room and read. When I read I
go into a type of trance; I am in my own world, different and unique
from any other place. You can be anyone; go anywhere. I swear that the day I learned to trace the wriggling lines that went across the
page, I discovered my place in the world of literature. Words give us women passion; passion that we so desperately need.

So many things in life for us humans depends on how we look. For sadly, in most of society’s opinion, one must be beautiful to be successful, or to ever even have the hope of marrying and settling down. Girls are taught to have unthinkable beauty, large breasts, small waists, hair that is golden and gets caught in the wind, as well as eyes that look like a stormy sea. Boys are taught to be tall, but not overly so, and certainly not short. With dark brown hair and eyes, and to have the figure and muscle definition of a body-builder. Those who are blessed with such looks are usually, but not always, stuck-up, as their beauty has gone straight to their head. Their outer beauty makes their inner beauty curdle and become ugly. So society teaches us that we must be beautiful so we can become ugly. My mother is the pretty one in the family. She denies her beauty, hides it, or tries to. Yet the reason that she is so beautiful is the fact that also possesses inner beauty. She has great strength and endurance, yet is caring and loving. She does her best with what she has. My beauty fails in comparison to hers, for she has lived through much more than I have; and I, unlike society, know that beauty does not come from age-defying make-up, but rather with age, life, and experience. My mother says that I am beautiful. I say that I am okay for my age. I have lived through thirteen years, and one war. I have lived through three father-figures. Two of whom I can remember, only one that I liked. I have lived through deaths, sorrow and pain. I have also lived through happiness, love and joy. But what I have lived through is only a third of what she has. So, in my eyes, I am a third of as beautiful as she. Society is wrong. Beauty is not the shape of the face, color of hair, straightness of teeth, or highness of cheek-bones. It is your experiences and how well you have lived your life. And that is why all of my family is beautiful. It is because they have lived through and overcome so much. And as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

They had come with the soft breezes that had also pushed their homemade wooden boats along Panama's grand canal. Two girls who spoke of great apes with silver chests and ants so large that you could ride on their
backs. Two sisters. Two halves of a circle that would never fully
mesh. Two triangles who, even though they tried, could not form a
square. One was of the deepest black, the other of the lightest
white. One was bright of day, the other the dark of night. They had both
come with delicate lace shawls that had fluttered gently in the cool
winds, like my maple tree's many colored leaves. Two who were not
related to anything but each other and to the constant pull of the
ocean's tide, the very same pull that had brought them to this place. Ever changing; ever shifting. Then their visitors were allowed to make their appearances: a man and daughter for both; a son only for one.

The one with golden hair like the waving wheat in my meadow received
an angel of a girl and a husband, whom she later left, due to her wild
and defined ways. The other settled down, and raised a family, all
the while retaining her love of life and implanting that love in all
that knew her. The wild one raised her daughter's daughter with much
love and affection, seeding her with her own wild seed. It grew
inside of the heart of the girl, even after the golden one's
hourglass's sand had long run out. Now, that little girl has grown
into a woman, and that woman is me. And now, I stand before you, today,
shivering and quaking, yet undeniably strong, on my day of judgement,
with the seed of a wild maple tree in my heart.

The author's comments:
This piece was inspired by Sandra Cisneros’s beautiful work of art, House on Mango Street. Each new segment is my take on her vignettes, and I attempted to capture the poetry and fluidity that is evident in her every work.

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This article has 1 comment.

sharley123 said...
on Aug. 25 2008 at 9:17 pm
This is beautifully crafted. I have never read anything like these before.

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