Pennsylvania

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The first layer of that view was directly behind our house – the grass striped dark and light green from the lawnmower’s tracks, the red trampoline with its black mesh netting, the small hill to its left. All of this abruptly ended with that thick hedge, once twice my height, dividing us from the cornfield. Queen Anne’s lace weaved into the thistle like elegant, frosted snowflakes. Royal delicacies. How can they be weeds?

To the right even of the trampoline, in between my backyard and my forest, was a small circular marsh no wider than my outstretched arms. In the summertime I waited near it, squatting by the grey murky surface of water searching for the source of the raspy croaking. I only saw my cloudy reflection and never the toad. I pulled and pulled on the surrounding cattails, but their tall thick stems dug their claws deep into the warm earth. The brown cigar-shaped tops would feel like soft felt, I was sure of it. Probably such a disorienting feeling for a plant yet I couldn’t reach them and I wasn’t allowed to bend them or they would probably break. How can these be weeds too?

My forest. I walked farther than I ever had before and I was serenely alone and quiet and separate. I found a tremendous fallen tree that had been uprooted from its snug blanket of dirt and the roots, once winding around blind worms in stark blackness and crawling toward the center of the earth, were now exposed and twisted in the air like frozen snakes. The thin river sliced the land like a paper cut and an antique car was stuck in the sludgey wetness near it. The metal corroded into a rough rusty chestnut color and the car frame was bent and mangled. The mud was engulfing the car’s entire body, slowly sucking it farther into the earth’s dense muddy stomach. On the worn leathered driver’s seat was a tiny porcelain fawn which I named Bambi.

The second and third layers of my view were visible only for seconds at a time from the trampoline. After dinner I would jump and jump to see over the dividing hedge and jump to glimpse the flat golden farmer’s field supple for my greedy eyes. Jump to see cornstalks stretched toward a far line of rounded treetops. A repetitive rhythm of pushing off the springy stretch so I could for even one second be suspended in the fresh air, swelling with lilac and with the faint budding moon which was pale behind the dripping blood of the burning sun sinking and melting from its throne. An oozing fusion of our day’s light. Lavender, bronze, blushing rose, baby blue and tangerine liquefying into the ivory clouds, mixing with the suppery barbeque smoke and the frog’s croaking and the cricket songs and my racing hammered heartbeat pulsing in my ears.

I stopped jumping and breathed the last dewdrops of light from the twilight sky, a muted globe of dark honey and coral. The fire died into darkness and the leaves rustled together, softly then loudly from the ebony wind and its inky whisper. Tree branches in my forest were suddenly maimed fingers, knotted and gnarled jabbing at the jet blackness that cushioned the moon whose silver glow fell into pockets of shadows around me the silent noises of bittersweet youth





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