The Woman Who Left
Moths are drawn by chemicals exuded from trees in duress. They lay their eggs in cracked bark. From within crevices larvae hatch and chew their way between barked space. The cambrium, a membrane that separates bark from channels of water and sap, is the divide that they skirt and dip into. They make holes in it and the tree, lace-like. Therefore many spaces exist beneath the surface of corrupted trees. They’re called corrupted if sufficiently weakened by infestation, which is itself substantially helped by a state of duress.
There’s a fundamental instability incorporated into the structure of trees if spaces are taken into account. All space. For example, me floating. Looking. As I did now at the tree that moved. Madness and blanks resonate like the peeling of a tree bark. I walked on pavements knowing instability and breathing hard. The trees when they peel are the only ones who know anything about it. The moths they draw in are one thing, an internal lace. That happens in the South, where sensuality is solely the landscape. There I was holding the curved trunk of a thin oak tree. There, sweating, I ran my fingers across the bluish dry and peeled a piece back, finding a whole world of things crawling quickly away from the sudden light. The wood they moved on was damp and a scorpion ran up the tree past my hand. Would I have been stung had I not had the light as my introduction? They breathed eerie with jointed legs drawn up between sacks of fluid.
She left. Moth lace in trees is easier to make than that. She, her French manners of seduction with fruit vendors. Hidden pictures rather than matters of fact. Beneath the bark they eat while I’m wandering through yellow tall grass and mud. The sky is gray and I am cold. I walk tilting towards air currents. I’m pulled forward and bent over by confusion at inertia. Her long hair was never ponderous. When the grasses are so wide and dry while also tall, how is it that I stick?
But up north where it’s wetter, it’s less the moths and more the fungi. At least as far as I can tell, having walked there once. In the rain and out of cracks come large feather fans. The decay and the leaning are incomparable. They walk down loving through the aesthetics of rot.
Bees and weevils come also into the branches of trees. I was alive one time in the dark and it told me so. It’s dark in the underlayers of bark, which is where soft white eating worms go. They’re the ones hatched. I loved once and it was the underside of bark. Cracking and peeling before its great release. The admission of appetite is somehow damning. These worms in eating condemn themselves to softness in tight spaces. Do they know light before fading? They come out of eggs breathless. They crawl maybe further into the gap where they were left and turn their mouths to the task at hand. A lover might do much the same. Might she think that? Worms eat through hard to soft bark. At the cambrium, they poke holes and then stop. They lie just beside the vessels, moving fluids of the wood. Why do they stop? Do they? Something makes them head for sap or water, or back to the dry instead. I think it’s something that floats.
I go to pictures, but she went to touch. The feeling of sunlight through the window at different times of the day. Ice cubes on their own, but rarely. Peanut butter sometimes intolerable. Shampoo was coarse grey salt held together by lime juice and avocado oil. I loved the connotation of the lime. She just wanted it on her fingers: the anticipatory moment of moving them to her forehead.
Hands can trace past dryness. Bark patterns lead similarly astray. Extreme powers of exertion seem insufficient when held up to the light of heavymelting skewed glasses. Myopic, those eyes of a soft worm--eternal or small? They see eternally into the sap.
My sight maybe can remain hiding in small boxes. They stack on top of each other and create an alarming pressure into which it falls back gently.
Channels of sap are the same as the eternal. A soft worm’s blind eyes see it and smell amber; its outward body tenses in sympathy with others staggered in resin.
A similar pose to the image of that boy one summer in the swimming pool, pulling at water with his arms to fall away from under me. An older boy and I wanted to pull his swim trunks off, clung my fingers on to them while he struggled with wanting to be polite.
In changes of sap there’s old desire. “Lover at most,” she’d say in the big shower that we purchased with our beginning middle age. I’d put black pore cleanser on her face and imagine what my fingers would look like if spread against the neck of a longbodied horse.
I want to send my mind to the tree insides. Not all of them, just that layer beneath the outside dry and above the flows covering the heartwood. Before all is together and pulp, that space. Present only inasmuch as carved out. Can they breathe in the tunnels, the worms? They leave behind trails of their excrement that pack the tunnels and leak out of the borings of their entrances. The dust leaking out is what botanists identify. How does the convulsed body on the other side breathe? Only when it has become a moth in darkness does it feel the need to crawl out. Does the tree feel it is ripped?
I move across a wide expanse of grey texture. I am blown by the blank sky to something gelatinous. A shaking yellow takes inventory: left, gone. Soft worms sit in the inner layer of trees, their moth shadows are drawn to the bark. Eggs laid then hatched mediate between.