I’ve watched the trees just about every night since…well, I can’t remember not doing so. They just stand there, day and night, straight as fence posts in the calm and crooked as teeth when the storms come in. And ‘round here the storms always do come. November ‘s when they really kick in. They speed up like derailed trains as they hit the rough skin of the mountain slopes. Traveling upwards and downwards, south then west…most of the time.
The old house hums when the winds get strong. Trapped air or something. And the tin on the roof whistles like a mad old woman when the wind goes all horizontal. The rain slaps across the windows on those nights, like it’s worked itself up into a real fury. Got to shut the windows up. Gets real still inside. Sometimes I turn off the lights. Not sure why, but it makes things feel less closed up, I guess—a little less small.
Anyways…I usually keep the curtains open though. I like watching the storm, most times. And listening. Listen—it’s like radio voices stuck between channels. A bit of fuzz and a lot of commotion—like a crowd of invisible people all chattering to each other out there. Quite a ruckus. Like the noise of the city being carried over the timberlines and dropped right into the woods. Keeps me company, but it can get downright ghostly.
And then they get to swaying. The trees that is. And the branches wave and scrape and scratch wildly against the thick hide of the night sky. Like they’re hunting for stars. Like they’d tear the moon down for company if they could. A bit like a drunkard I once saw at a Pentecostal prayer service too. A tangle of grace and violence.
Once, well…I guess maybe you heard. Of course you did—it’s what you’re here for, right? Well, Ok. I’ll tell it. Once I got what you might call a vision. With the static of the storm and the lash of the rain and the whiskey warm in my belly and thoughts of a dead friend in mind, I saw—for a moment mind you—that the night was the blackness of a gaping mouth; the birch shown as white as teeth and the rain flung itself like a hail of syllables and grunts, sputters and howls—singing in tongues out of a great open mouthed face of pure, sparkling dark.
Well, there it is, plain. So god help me. I can still see it, though its features are just a blue black smear now. But yes, that face pressed itself against the world so hard it seemed to tear the skin off everything, peeling back the weight and texture of centuries to reveal some secret and unspeakable togetherness of white and black infinity. Then grinning, for a moment—just the unbearable brightness of the trees shooting through the window into my eyes with a fire as hungry as wolves.
It addressed me.
Look, I know it don’t sound right, but I’m not telling stories for the hell of it. At that moment, well I was sure I was dying. Sometimes think I might ‘a done so too. Maybe, died and then resurrected? Though there weren’t no angels or trumpets. No, just the trees and the light and the fire and the dark—that face, as close as my breath and somehow bigger than the whole damn mountain range. Either way, every time I get to thinking about it, I still feel a bit of the storm in my body…