Monday, February 16, 2009

Butchering the tree of me

I woke the other morning with the dream tree echoing in my mind. Off center. Unnatural. Butchered. Altered. Sad. These are the words that describe the tree. Its image stays with me.

In my dreams, there is a "school age" white girl with long, slightly wavy hair - the ends feathery and brushing mid-back. I believe she is my mind's symbol for myself when I am watching from third person perspective. I have seen her in other dreams.

She was leaning against a white painted fence without the vertical pickets. A black book bag sits at her feet and she is reading in front of a one story suburban house while standing beneath the tree's canopy. A boy shows up and I shift perspective between the boy and the girl as they have a conversation. I don't know if the conversation is important. The autumn sun is setting, streaking gold and plum strokes across the sky.

Suddenly, while I am the girl, I fixate on the tree and realize that the trunk is far to my right and the canopy is simply the rounded leaves growing from a single, long branch with its tip resting on the roof of the house to my left about 25 feet away. The leaves to the right of the trunk don't overhang the trunk more than a few short feet. I look up. Someone has woven a wire lattice for a creeper plant to twine itself, giving the illusion of a fuller canopy than it really is. All other branches have been cleanly sawed off, close to their source.

This realization saddens me, saddens her. The tree's natural growth, it's organic symmetry has been brutally altered to meet the aesthetic preferences of those dwelling in the house and the city. The result is a this dramatic lopsidedness. Unbalance.

The tree is me. The sadness that wells in me stems from the part that does not like what she sees. I play my role well at work, at home. But for all the effort I have butchered parts of myself that I held sacred to cater to "their" symmetry, "their" ideals. I think it's interesting that the RIGHT side of the tree (right brain) is the side that suffers all the cuts while the LEFT side of the tree (left brain) weighs heavily on this house for support. It hangs high because of it, and serves it's purpose well, but it's still fake.

How to turn what I built on the left side into genuine achievement and how to re-teach the right side to grow again without detracting from the left?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where the Buffalo Are

So my brother decided to resurrect our old hard drive from 5 or 6 years ago for...whatever his purposes are. He salvaged my old documents and to say the least, it's been like finding a time capsule of HORROR and DISMAY at what a silly teenager I was.

He found a creative piece I wrote less than 2 months after I turned 17 for one of my two history classes during senior year of high school. I was enrolled in 2 history classes - 1 IB World History class and 1 "remedial" US History for the easy A to make up for my dismal grade in IB US History the year prior.

The teacher asked us to write from the perspective of the Native Americans during the European colonization of the United States. I think I was a bit liberal with the prompt and wrote in a style loosely inspired by Toni Morrison's Beloved since we had read it for IB English. Since the hard drive crash, I have been looking for a copy of this piece ever since.

I not only turned it in and got an A, I printed it out in red italics - AND read it out loud to the class for extra credit. It's a fucking wonder they didn't send me straight to the school psychologist:

Chance Hilott
US History – 6

Where the Buffalo Are

Her side rises with my head against it. I lay my head on the soft down of my mother, ensanguined with blood. Mine and hers, our blood, it bleeds into the milk she leaks. Precious, life-giving elixir, tainted with blood, human and animal. I hear the Earth our bodies rest upon, the Earth which we cannot separate ourselves from, I hear her cry out, drink in our blood. She observes her own children go mad with greed, with fury. She weeps. The breath snorting through my mother’s nostrils fades. We see red and are blinded by it.

We cannot do a thing.

My mother and I. We cannot close our eyes. The men without skin scalp my sister. I see her fall to her knees before me, her eyes meet my lifeless ones before she falls silently to kiss the Earth. Her blood feeds the Earth too. My mother’s body shudders. I shudder.

There…I see my father wrapped in the red mist. He wrestles with the skinless one. Something happens, and the skinless one falls. My father wipes his brow as he watches the Earth drink the blood of her skinless son. My father explodes! His body collapses on top of the skinless one’s. They embrace, their blood merges as one stream. The Earth drinks and cries.

The skinless ones. They crush my baby’s skull with stone. Yesterday he said, “Mama.” They rape my aunt. They spit on her, scratch her face and slice off her breasts with their wolves’ claws. They drag her ravaged body behind their horses. They slice her neck but her eyes are open. They laugh, their mouths move. They chew us up and spit us out. Their smiles are stained with blood, coating their teeth like oil. They carry our scalps on the point of their sword, mocking our way. I cannot see anymore.

Nothing but red.

It consumes me. I cannot cry but my soul weeps. I cannot moan but my soul wails.

Where is my mother? I forget. Where have all the buffalo gone? My heart hurts. I am so tired. My eyes hurt. I do not like the red. But I cannot close my eyes. Blood, the Earth’s breath stinks of burnt blood, like copper. The skinless ones taste the red too. Some of them hesitate because of it. Most are propelled by it. I cannot see the blue sky. There’s too much red. I cannot see the buffalo. Too much red. I cannot see the Earth. Too much red. I cannot see my mother.

Too much red.

I cannot taste her milk. I gag on metallic blood. My mother’s blood. The skinless one’s blood. The buffalo’s blood. My blood. The Earth swallows it all. I want water. But the red is too dense, thick like cotton. I cannot breathe. Singing. Who is singing? I need to taste the singing. I want to taste that song. I need to hear the milk. I can hardly feel it when they take my scalp. My eyes are open! But I don’t care.

Who is singing? I have to touch it…I reach out for it with my mind. I have to have it. Her song carries me away. It is mine. She whispers to me that she will take me to the buffalo, where the milk and the water are. Where the red won’t hurt my eyes. Where the red can’t clog my throat.

She says that my mother is there.

She says that my sister and father are there.

She says my aunt is there. And my sweet, sweet baby too. But she cannot carry me there until the red is gone. Until we are set free.

So still I wait.