Fresh Little Trees

We are here to tell you of the placid incontrovertibility of space, which lives in the international interstice. We are here to warn you against the electrifying illusion of grace, which ambushes and confuses travelers in time.

The day-to-day wormholes you pass through and return to without even knowing you’ve walked through a door in the first place – like entering a floating greenhouse, the cold frame. The invisible walls are made of glass and rigged with pollinators.  You walk towards the exit, unaware you’re inside, but semi-alive (half-dead?) to the fact something strange is going on  – coming down with a mild form of airborne paranoia, brought on by the ghostly vapor you feel on your skin, the sudden drop in R-values, the faint brush of stunted crops and flowers.

You went away for a little while, to the mystery place of been here and gone that. And you travel back again, to another Temporary Autonomous Zone.

This time around you’re not walking, though. You’re driving, putting torque on the wheel, barreling down (up?) some deserted and desert-type road, a straight razor cut across as yet unestablished flatlands. There’s a mountain range in the shimmering distance, the receding climax of what looks like an upward curve. Before that, only episodic parentheses. You feel like the stylized gizmo flip-flopping beneath the coated rearview mirror, because it reminds you of what just happened, and will surely happen again: hey, look, it’s a Little Tree ™.

The scent is advertised on the tree’s pitted, felt-like, can’t believe it’s not Styrofoam bark. The lettering reads: “All the stuff you saw and savored.” As it moves in mid-air, the car freshener conflates with the basic shapes and serrations of the road: racing stripes, oblong geometries and triangulations, squares turning out to be trapezoids, unfixed, insurrectionary objectives.

The odometer ticks over so fast, it’s like a Geiger counter, clocking vast and sundry distances, picking up some heavy cosmic radiation, pulses of forgetting. Terminal velocity though, max entropy. And those lucid sierras aren’t getting any bigger.

And then you pick up something beautiful and vital, but dim and disorganized too, not at all Rand McNally material, more like the thumb print of the phantom hitchhiker, you know the type, T-shirt and bluejeans, all anticipative palsy, bumming rides all over your subconscious. He or she materializes not as a face or a specific position as much as a profile, unraveling while you try to figure its meaning out for yourself, a referral to a checkered spectrum of sensations, like a bundle of early-morning hair, hazily spilling over a pillow case, percolating into the carpet, too long to be really happening, too much keratin there, pooled into rivulets and ringlets babbling away from you, maundering up the curtains. Little daybreak contusions, insufficiently out of context, wholly off guard. You rubbed your eyes like they do in cartoons and the next thing you recall, a shock of hair fading into first light.

The memory is dizzy and weak at the knees. But space does not budge.

That’s you though, under that corrugated hardtop, wishing the wind would blow. That’s you, conducting your roadside maneuvers in the dark. Life Magazine. Gas Stations. Marts. The World’s Largest Something. A couple of Jesi.

Sequential, alright, but this thing has no stick shift. The sun-touched smells electrify you, though, as they contour the blanks. Painted twinkletoes luxuriating on the grimy dashboard, competing for all-time cuteness against a pair of fluffy dice and the “I spy with my brittle eye” game you’ll play a few miles down this strange, nameless road.

Close but no cigar colors whizzing by: adobe, celadon, yellows so pale they’re verging on uncharted Pantone zones.

And Music. Always Music. Capital M. Drifting in from a beat-up Pioneer-manufactured radio, sporadically breaking up, but beautiful. The Little Tree ™ sways. Higher acoustics meeting deeper aromatics. Laying down a moving soundtrack that keeps count, confines certain outbursts. But the music too must converge with the mileage you clocked, with the plastic lining and the illuminated dials, the spring-loaded chimera of whoever is sitting beside you, resting their head on your shoulder now, humming, fiddling with the frequency, playing with your hair. You can’t really believe in these opinions. But the space is real. So say the aureoled bugs on your smeared windshield. So sing the mini-mountains, dropping away into the far stretch, creasing the outer range of your loosed soul.

Now you’re really warming to this journeyed, storied moment in time, because you have caught on to its agnostic drift. And you feel its finally OK to close your eyes and relax your grip a little ways. The interstate is unswerving and cloudless. The speed is just right.

You walked, you drove. Maybe now it’s time to fly.

Little Tree ™. Little Tree ™. Let me in.

art: Lee S. Millard, Fresh Air Fresheners

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