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  • Maple Tree: Wound
  • Dana Roeser (bio)

Maple Tree: Wound

           The extended metaphor: “the emblem of yourself, if you like, or of        someone, or something, else.” Coming

           home from lunch with Tom and Mary, where I got a little        relief, a little temporary

           relief, from the agony of always hustling for the next thing, I take        a stick to the bolus

           of solidified pus—on the knot, on the bare place—is it the amputation        place?—of a limb— [End Page 46]

           of the giant maple that dominates my life. Once        I touched the white lump with my

           fingers. Lucy was with me. It had a kind of wetness, a kind of sweat. Disgusting.        Ruth will not let up with

           the cognitive therapy shit. I know exactly what she’s up to. I’ve read about        it. Just keep telling the “client”

           that he/she is fine. That will change the pattern of the negative thinking about        him/herself. What kind of fool

           does she take me for? Perched on her chair like that? I couldn’t believe        how sweaty and revolting

           that glob. I washed my hands a thousand times after touching it. Rapacious        maple. Its wound doesn’t seem to be

           slowing it down any. Our “perennial garden,” put in by Shelly, gardening consultant,        is half the size, height, and

           heft of Danny and Felicia’s next door. Whose garden gets full sun        and no root interference. Who do

           not have the greedy maple. I saw a maple tree, in the Bonsai Club display, at        Global Fest. Grown from one of those [End Page 47]

           wingy things, whirligigs. They gave the date it was started as         twelve years ago. It was about a

           five-inch-long twig, but with its junior canopy of leaves. It was planted         in something china, a little holder of

           some kind, looked a bit pinched. It was in with the poodle-like shaped bonsais—        must have been a bit

           chagrined. Metaphor! Where art thou? Really. Am I the maple or the         gaping wound or the surprisingly

           firm, obdurate mass of whitish excrescence poufing from the wound? Does it grow?         Has it grown in the four

           years that we’ve been here? Is it, at certain times of the year, more liquefied/         putrefied? I think of the horrid

           discussions about trans-fatty acids. Oops, I mean trans-fats. Is that what        I mean? Anyhow, it’s the kind

            of oil that becomes solid at room temperature, also known as         hydrogenated fat. I’ve

           already got some of the waxy stuff within, hence the         agonizing abstinence from fried [End Page 48]

           calamari (how can “fried” be a problem when linked with “calamari”?). I’m         sorry the tree is bleeding.

           Is suppurating. I’m sorry, dear tree, which in truth I have not found         dear. Half its leaves bedraggle, come

           in late or not at all, die brown before the first frost. The tree         does not look altogether healthy.

           Ruth! I said, Oh, for God’s sake, Ruth, let’s face         it, I’m handicapped. She nodded

           but then went right on with her positive-thinking agenda. God! Who gives         a shit about my wound? I can

           hardly remember what it is. Or the glob of suet that hangs off of it. Or the leaves         not coming all the way in, or the young

           maple cosseted by some misguided Bonsai aficionados in a china pot? There’s something         to be grateful for—I was not

           raised in a china pot. (My wound, I think, was less awful than my mother’s. And         more awful, I pray, than my daughter’s.) Wait.

            Whoa. Where went the metaphor? And, promise me, you’ll never let my students         see this. Not that they care one [End Page 49]

           way or the other. They do not. Not caring. Was that the wound? No. I have         neglected the tree. As I do all living

           things in my life requiring my care. Benign neglect, an expression I learned         somewhere. Right. I have tried

           to love my daughters (love as in action verb, as in St. Francis). It is true         that I refused to take Eleanor to her

           allergy shot during her English class...


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