spider tree

It's been a while since I have shared any of my assignments from creative writing class. Lately, we have been working on sort non-fiction, which I actually really enjoy. The routine is that a few people a week email their story to everybody, and then we "workshop" them all together in class. And, this week I finally got the balls to submit my story. It wasn't as terrible as I expected to feel having the whole class talk about my writing. I am used to people talking about my art, but this is a whole new breed of feeling exposed. The author of the writing isn't allowed to speak until the end of the discussion, so it's hard to restrain the urge to jump in and defend or correct things. As discussion ensued on my story it appeared that most of the class, including the teacher read it as an account from my childhood, which I thought was fascinating because it was an event that took place only two years ago. Eventually, one boy declared his opinion that I was not a child in the story, so a debate arose over the subject (making the "remain silent" rule really challenging). My professor claimed he must have assumed it was a childhood experience because of the wonder and fascination I had expressed in my encounters with my surroundings, which is not often the way an adult sees the world. It was an unexpected observation, but it made me really happy.

The Spider Tree

I am consumed with exhilaration as I unhitch the gate and step out onto the orange street. My eyes are filled with the meandering "escape goats" (always a rope around their neck, the other end just dragging in the dirt), scrawny chickens, old men on even older bikes, and colorfully distressed colonial homes that speak of a very different time in this rural African town.

Two ancient trees mark the end of the block. Arriving under their limbs my chest tightens when i see an uncomfortably large spider dangling at just the right height to make me curve around it. I almost run, but can't help the urge to stop and look closer. As I trace my way up it 's web, my eyes, again, are filled. This time with countless amounts of spiders inhabiting every limb, and every space between limbs. I am surprised to find beauty. After a few moments my initial fear evaporates into pure wonder of the Spider Tree.

The brightly colored busyness of the shop street continues on by. But I am frozen, unable to stop staring at this spider metropolis, this tapestry of webs against the sky. Standing still and standing out in my bright green shirt, my head tilted upward, my blonde hair sticking to my back.

Finally returning my attention to the bustle of the street I notice two boys, the younger of which only wears one shoe. The inquisitive stare I receive from them is a stare i have grown used to in my time here, as well as the frequent shout of "Mazunga!" ("white girl.") I return the stare with a similar inquisitiveness. When these boys and I see each other I know we are fighting similar preconceived notions, fears, questions, so many things. And then we pause to look further. Further into our uniqueness. Further into our beautiful tapestry of differences. And we are mesmerized. We are just like the Spider Tree.

1 comment:

No Longer Mute said...

Lauren!!! I absolutely love your ability to paint such a beautiful picture through words!