It was English, and the wych-elm that she saw from the window was an English tree. No report had prepared her for its peculiar glory. It was neither warrior, nor lover, nor god; in none of these roles do the English excel. It was a comrade, bending over the house, strength and adventure in its roots, but in its utmost fingers tenderness, and the girth, that a dozen men could not have spanned, became in the end evanescent, till pale bud clusters seemed to float in the air.
Me dad planted that tree,’ she said absently, pointing out through the old cracked window.The great beech filled at least half the sky and shook shadows all over the house.Its roots clutched the slope like a giant hand, holding the hill in place. Its trunk writhed with power, threw off veils of green dust, rose towering into the air, branched into a thousand shaded alleys, became a city for owls and squirrels. I had thought such trees to be as old as the earth, I never dreamed that a man could make them. Yet it was Granny Trill’s dad who had planted this tree, had thrust in the seed with his finger. How old must he have been to leave such a mark? Think of Granny’s age, and add his on top, and you were back at the beginning of the world.
He [Zane] waited until Nuckal was right under the tree. Then Zane let go of the trunk and jumped down on top of the skeleton. Nuckal let out an "oof" as Zane landed on him, and the two rolled around on the ground until they smacked into a big rock. Zane was stunned for an instant, allowing the skeleton to get to his bony feet."Ha!" said Nuckal. "You're my prisoner!"Zane rolled aside and sprang into a crouch, a shuriken in his hand. "No. You are my prisoner.""I said it first," insisted Nuckal."I hardly think that matters," Zane answered. "I have a shuriken. You dropped your sword fifteen-point-two feet up the hill. How can I be your prisoner if you have no weapon?"Nuckal tapped his head with a long finger of a bone. "I have my brain... well, actually, I don't really, but I'll bet I'm still smarter than you.""Why would you think that?" asked Zane."For one thing, when I climb trees, I don't fall out of them," Nuckal said, with pride in his voice. "And I don't run around in the dark by myself in the middle of the night where I might run into trouble.
Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label. Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable. This is because it has unfathomable depth. All we can perceive, experience, think about, is the surface layer of reality, less than the tip of an iceberg.
I Am VerticalBut I would rather be horizontal.I am not a tree with my root in the soilSucking up minerals and motherly loveSo that each March I may gleam into leaf,Nor am I the beauty of a garden bedAttracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,Unknowing I must soon unpetal.Compared with me, a tree is immortalAnd a flower-head not tall, but more startling,And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool odors.I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.Sometimes I think that when I am sleepingI must most perfectly resemble them--Thoughts gone dim.It is more natural to me, lying down.Then the sky and I are in open conversation,And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:The the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me."I Am Vertical", 28 March 1961
As I had to do whenever I glimpsed this river, I thought of Phineas. Not of the tree and pain, but of one of his favorite tricks, Phineas in exaltation, balancing on one foot on the prow of a canoe like a river god, his raised arms invoking the air to support him, face transfigured, body a complex set of balances and compensations, each muscle aligned in perfection with all the others to maintain this supreme fantasy of achievement, his skin glowing from immersions, his whole body hanging between river and sky as though he had transcended gravity and might by gently pushing upward with his foot glide a little way higher and remain suspended in space, encompassing all the glory of the summer and offering it to the sky.