A Tree That Doesn’t Grow in Brooklyn


A Tree That Doesn’t Grow In Brooklyn

She got back and the tree was gone, even the square of yellow dirt in which the tree had struggled was gone, and their neighbor’s belly gloated over his lawn chair just out front, no more leaves slick as shit for those Sp–cs and N—s to sue him for anything they could, he said, and she screamed at him, and marched down the street still torn-up, asking every guy in a hard hat till two pointed towards a storefront other side of Metropolitan where the City had set up some temporary office for the fix, and she marched into its yellow paint and blueprints, right across from the pizzeria where the guy was missing half his right thumb and part of a forefinger too, and they’d had a tree, there–there–pointing on the map at the little square break in the row of connected squares, and he said, yes, but the owner told them that they didn’t want it, and she said, but he wasn’t the owner, and he said, oh, and something about a letter, and she brought up jackhammering, a vein in her temple throbbing she was sure, and he talked about where she could send the letter, and how the tree had been dead already, really, the bark ringed, and she thought of their neighbor getting out of his lawn chair for once, squatting down with a knife, or maybe paying some kid to do it, you know, one of the ones who was sure to sue him if he slipped, and the guy shrugged and she stepped out of the office, the narrow green door with the diamond peep holes so heavy it almost slammed her, and how could they, when it was on the map, how could they just uproot it from
the ground–

and the office had been air conditioned more heavily than she realized because coming out onto Graham was like being flattened .what with the summer exhaust of car, truck, bus, the oven drafts of air conditioner, the fan of pizza parlor particulating tomato–

and she kept thinking of the difference of a tree–she could take the neon and the freon, she could stand below the river whole subways long, she could look down the vista at the red tower of that hospital you were supposed to stay away from at all cost, and up the vista at the rumpled pant’s legs aimless on various street corners,

and now she did look down the vista and spindly specters were planted every several yards, their burlap still showing like the shoes of the homeless, but not like the homeless, because this was beauty come calling, like the knobby legs of fawns daring the combed cement, like a gift of grapes from the sky, like scattered molecules of breeze–

all but on their own little block–

and as the sun beat down on the too white new cement and the too black tar, she felt any chance of shade ever evaporating, much less blossom, the stoppering of breath–of the inhalation, that is, not the yammering–


Here’s a belated, but still very much of a draft, piece for dVerse Poets Pub prompt on trees posted by the very prolific and creative Bjorn Rudberg. 

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7 Comments on “A Tree That Doesn’t Grow in Brooklyn”

  1. Pretty cool write–this is a side of your writing I haven’t seen before, but would like to see again—there is a kind of electricity in it–

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Quite a lot going on in this, all understated but functioning as the fire that makes the stew bubble. I couldn’t live without trees, or not willingly, anyway–in Chicago I haunted Lincoln Park and the lakefront, then I ran for someplace where I could plant and grow them for a living—it’s strange though, I have met people who hated trees and cut down any they could, as the man described here–never have understood that. Some very effective, pressure-cooker writing here, k.

  3. brian miller Says:

    wow…nicely developed vignette k…i love all the little details that really bring this alive…the missing fingers..the diamonds…sad at the loss of trees…one of the reasons i love the high line there in your city.. a bit of nature splashed in…the best of both worlds….we need the trees…

  4. claudia Says:

    it’s so sad when they cut down trees and esp. in a city that desperately needs them… i remember when i was in nyc on my second day i went to the MOMA and when i watched out one of the windows, there was a row of blossoming cherry trees in the street and i still remember how it took my breath away…such unexpected beauty in a city of skyscapers…

  5. Kay Davies Says:

    Very nicely done, Karin. Sorry you’re not feeling well, but you’re still writing well.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Discovering a tree gone that was part of your childhood is more difficult than finding a house gone from your childhood, I think, and I have experienced both. So, I know how you feel in an even deeper way than your experience left you.

    You seem to me, like you are from another planet than I (New York, I mean), so I think I will read your blog for a while.

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