Monday, April 21, 2008


When I have a cold or sinus infection or some other physical ailment, I stop feeling hungry. I abandon sugar/fat/dairy in favor of Indian food. The spice clears my head. I need cleansing, via curry, gallons of hot tea, salad, grapefruit, dozens of oranges. I also need to numb the pain in my throat and head with menthol, more tea, and hot showers. I eschew the energy-expenditure of going to class, and spend hours in bed instead. I don't talk to anyone when I'm sick.

I'm not properly sick now--just heartsick.

I am self-medicating with loose fitting t-shirts, too many chocolate cookies and an excessive amount of ice cream, pizza, long conversations in the sun or on the phone, long walks with no proper jacket or shoes, extra doses of church. Max, effusive as a puppy, is the best antidote to the poison of a person I just cannot deal with. Crying cleanses the stuffed feeling in my eyes and chest. The cold of a clouded morning numbs the pain in my heart. I am avoiding homework. Instead, I sneak outside (abandon my cell phone, who cares if it rings?), ditch my shoes at the base of a pine tree. It takes wriggling and pulling and twig-breaking and leg-scraping, but I squirm up into the crest. The bark chills the bare soles of my feet, my palms. I want to cry, but tears do not come when I call them.

I break off a twig with its explosion of pine needles and tear them off bundle by bundle. Each bundle has five needles. I pluck those one by one, too, letting them fall through the criss-cross of sticks and branches below, until this seems too sanitized and controlled, about half-way through the bouquet. The needles are not as pungently-scented as I am accustomed to expect, so I tear into tiny segments and crush them in my palms. They leave my already sap-spotted skin tinged green. When I drop them, they scatter through the air, falling, falling.

It is cold and secret and silent. I would like to be a pine tree, clothed always in rustling green needles, fresh sap oozing instead of blood and tears and sweat. Trees cannot cry. Neither can I . . .

Do the trees ever want to weep?

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