Strange tree dream

January 21, 2020 at 8:21 am (By Amba) (, , )

A grove of tree trunks is standing deathly silent and still in a dim, shadowy place that is somehow indoors. I don’t see beyond the trunks, but the feeling is undergroundish, like a parking garage or deserted warehouse. The trunks are close together, and the darkness thickens between them. They’re a deep brown, very straight like pillars, more than twice as thick as my arms would go around, with regular, vertically grooved bark. Thinking of it now they could be redwoods, but in the dream I thought of them as elms.

My brother is with me and I’m calling a report back to him. I find myself climbing one, or find that I have climbed it. At first I thought of grasping the grooves, but it’s easy to shinny straight up because the bark is almost sticky, not in an icky way but in a pleasant, textured way, like rough fabric (burlap? corduroy?) with a rubbery coating, conferring on me the sense of having sticky pads for fingers like a lizard. It welcomes climbing; it has a gravity-canceling effect, so that climbing is almost effortless and feels safe.

But before I can climb up into any spreading branches, I am stopped. The upper part of the tree has been sealed off by a badly made cement (concrete?) ceiling that closes in tightly around the trunk. I can see cracks and nails and corners in it, it’s not form-fitting—made with brutal indifference—but no light or air or sight can squeak through. And it’s certain that as the tree continues to grow the cement will press into it.

Above this ceiling branches must still spread and wave, there must be leaves to feed each tree and air and sky, but all that is sealed off from the trunks. It’s been done with the assumption that trees don’t “know” or “care,” but how could they not?

Other than having been surprised to read in the course of work that robust sequoias are dying, and that there are elms in coastal wetland forests being inundated by salt water from sea level rise—they were the trees of my childhood street and I thought they’d all been killed long ago by dutch elm disease—I have no associations to this and no idea what it “means.” But it feels like life now, public and private, they can’t be separated.

UPDATE: Speaking of trees, Republicans want to plant trillions of them. See, says House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, “we care.” In the words of one of his colleagues from Arkansas, “Trees are the ultimate carbon sequestration.”

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