Tracing Paper Wings

my mama wrote about an experience she had in nature when she was a little girl that reminded me of an experience jim morrison of the doorโ€™s had as a boy. heโ€™d witnessed a crash that resulted in death and wrote about it in his song, dawnโ€™s highway. however, in mama’s case, there were no native americans โ€œscattered on dawnโ€™s highway bleedingโ€.

she seemed to have been traumatized at witnessing the death of several tall trees during an unexpected storm. she wrote at length about how big and tall they were, and how the storm had pulled them right out of the ground by their roots before flinging them across the prairie. she wrote that it reminded her of a time when her mother got angry and lifted her off the ground by her hair, then shook her like a fourth of july sparkler, before dropping her to the ground angrily, as if burned by her flares.

iโ€™m not sure why mama connected those experiences in the same journal entry. sometimes i canโ€™t tell if she was altogether mental, or if my lack of understanding means that iโ€™m not all together mentally, if you know what i mean.

when i tried to connect the experiences of trees being lifted by their roots and her being pulled up by her hair, then shook in anger and fire, all i came up with was that she and the trees were accidentally buried birds doomed to silent and colorful mime, performing life as if they were chaplinesque manakins.

it was in my early twenties that iโ€™d read about the dead trees and sparklers, and afterward, it was hard to look at tall trees, tall people, and the evening stars the same. i guess she taught me in her own way that nothing in the world can get too high or too tall to fall.

but i didnโ€™t like the way this lesson felt, and when i turned fifty, i decided to reread mamaโ€™s journals to work out in my heart a way to make the experiences i’d perceived as more burdensome, a little lighter and less filled with despair.

i concluded that mama also taught me about the benefits of not fighting nature. although it sometimes acts in ways we donโ€™t anticipate, and can cause great pain, embracing its purpose can give us wings. that’s corny as hell i know, still, i believe my mamaโ€™s abuse sparked a beautiful fire inside her that somehow inscribed her wings into every earthed and unearthed tree between here and the end of the earth, and between you and me, i love the idea of seeing mamaโ€™s wings in every tree, sitting in her shade wherever i go, and writing my thoughts upon her skin.

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