the sugar tree


At least twice a week, I drive by the house where I grew up. I don’t make a point of it or anything; the ins and outs of my workday have within the past few months demanded it. It’s still tucked in snug along the train tracks, but more visible from the highway now that the house next door has been torn down.

I don’t miss living in that house, or in the tiny non-place beneath the coal plant and its cooling towers. I don’t even remember much that happened there.


The moment I was sure I was going to be flogged to death by the Canada geese I’d chased down to the backwater, the tinny ping of a pellet shot toward a passing train from a bb gun, throwing stones into the flooded field across the road with no regard for the man who would mow over them when it dried up. The rush of pain and shock when I flipped over my bicycle handlebars on a downhill sprint. Panting in the gravel, staring at the sky, waiting for my lungs to fill.

A basketball hoop, a trampoline, a swimming pool. A snake decapitated by a rusty shovel, a mouse darting across the basement floor. Bee-stung bare feet, a sunporch filled with bird cages. Stories about pony lots and pony barns and the heartbreak I felt when a tree I loved was cut down.

That kind of thing. Small nothings. I worry that I’ll turn my head one day and it will be gone. That absence will mean something. Maybe someday I’ll figure out what that something will be.