April 2014

Raintree

The leviathan that was the sea-green river rushed roaringly over thousands of rounded, teal rocks; rushed roaringly against embankments of beige earth and sprouting strands of sharp yellowish-green; rushed roaringly underneath the ten-hued firework foliage of the trees. And through the trees the sky was flawlessly blue. And the sun poured golden flakes down its broad beams.

The sea-green river, serpentine and strong, dominated the landscape in which it was encapsulated. So alive and loud was the river that all else reveled in silence: the birds—burnt burgundy or stained indigo—flapped wings frictionlessly, and thus in silence; even their trumpet beaks playing proudly were turned to the silence of a falling leaf. The river—O that river!—was a siren song: terrible beauty, quick seduction, and, somehow, all things gentle were rolled into one as if on a petal’s edge.

This river, like a wind, rushed in and through the mind. Through the body. It rushed roaringly forward, against the land, on and on, unstoppable,—and then onto a precipice, where it thrust itself forward, shattered in mid-air, and fell as cold, hard, green, droplet kisses.

As the water fell, the roar of the river was doubled, and as the kisses hit, doubled again. Mists of striving and death and death and rebirth covered the land. Covered a single tree, the Raintree, which was ever covered with mists. Forged of black wood and rising high into the air, the Raintree peacocked forest green fans of leaves. That swaying tree was magnificence in motion. Sublimer than gilded words or sworn vows. It was of singular beauty—the leaves and branches like a scene of black boats tossed hither and thither by seamless undulations of green on green, while the mists bathed everything from every direction.

The Raintree held its ground. It absorbed the water, the light, the air. It tasted the flavors of the land. It reached toward the heavens. It was. It is.

Some will say the Raintree is but a tree, enchained in cycles larger than itself. Some will say the Raintree is old as time, and others, that it transcends time, transcends the river and all its sound and fury. Some will look at the Raintree and see pain, while others will see pleasure. The leaf and bark will make, for some, cherished freedom, for others, a prison.

The Raintree—what is it?

Where did it come from? How long has it lived with us? Is it one thing or many things at once? Why does it stand alone? Does it have a mother? A twin? A brother? A cousin? Does it have an essence? Is it what you want it to be? Is it changeless or continuously changing? Does it have another name? Is it speaking to us in a foreign tongue? Can it be understood?

In the calm of the day, in the blue of the sky, in the gold of the sun, Yea, in the death and rebirth of the river, stood the Raintree, whose green leaves wept green rain.

***

My father, the Raintree is and is not what it seems; is and is not understood; is like the nature of all things—split into halves of lucidity and mystery.

—Kjell Nykvist

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