Kung Fu Treetop Expressionism

Our family in transit over hilly fall countryside. The leaves that rich yellow that seems lit from within. The air a faint blue as though the world is caught in perpetual morning just in time for the frost to disappear but the chill and the damp to remain.

We have been traveling what seems a long time, living out the upper halves of bags, using only what we can reach. An extended vacation, then. A caravan of cars. My sisters, my cousins, my grandfather…the last autumn of his life.

With a kind of exuberant, almost magic realist sadness, a giddy fear, I am climbing trees in no waking, physics-bound fashion, but with a kung-fu aesthete’s disregard for gravity. The trunks are rough beneath my half-numb fingers, the branches thin, the clouds of leaves thick as a bamboo jungle. The sun is always just beyond the next tree, lighting everything yet never seen.

Then I am called from below by my sisters, my cousins, my mother. Grandpa is waiting at the foot of the tree, and suddenly I realize I am sixty feet in the air, and gravity exists, though I still can defy it. I make my way down with a thrill in my belly, collect my backpack stuffed with wool socks and warm layers, and rush off after the others towards the cars.

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