the tree house
Prognacious, bulging out into the suburban street, the tree house stands. To the casual passer by, even if there are none beyond those who catch only a truncated view through their car windows, it is not clear whether the house grew in the tree, or the tree in the house. One seems to branch out from the other, like Siamese twins joined irreparably at the base. Did they grow out of each other, edging up together storey by storey, season by season? No tree surgeon can separate them, no structural engineer reclaim the fragmenting foundations of the building, held up and penetrated in every cranny by rhizomatic networks of white fibrous roots groping blindly for moisture. The tree shoots upwards, its dark leaves pining for the empty ether of the sky, as if to assert itself in some other open space, in the desiccated wilderness of the countryside, its silence troubled by nothing except irreverent birds and persistent noisy flies. The house, on the other hand, stands four-square, flat and bare-bricked, claiming the normality of human habitation, of fences and tarmac streets, of domestic dramas concealed behind its curtained windows, of hasty lovemaking and anxious sleepless nights. Tree and house stand grafted together, contiguously, in intimate embrace, each a metonymy of the other, of the rural city that refuses to let go of a lost life of adventurous vegetation, of the open spaces that languished in warm winds before crowded ships arrived to seize each allocated designated plot. Upstairs in the tree house, overlooking these irresolvable dialectics of the suburban fringe, the children replay lost histories: boys become pirates and girls become amazons, swallowing snake charms, shimmying up and down the fragile make-shift ladders that lead them to and from the nowhere that was there before slipping and sliding deep into the unconscious of the city, into the vacancy of its after lives remembered from times before time began.