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A Pine Tree Doesn’t Know English


Jillian Stebbins

It feels like a windy night. One of the nights that make you forget about the people behind the names. It feels like dancing, the kind of dancing that little kids do when they can’t keep their hands quiet. What I know about that is about as much as I know about trains, or stamps, or how to tell a human being I have my own little feelings. One of them is so nice. My feeling, that is. It feels like rain in my limbs and those dumb sparklers from the 4th of July are spinning like there was a brick wall older than my mother right behind. But it’s so calm. I think maybe it’ll be okay if I can be there.

I don’t always know if I’m sick or just thirsty. It was dark, for a while, and I was sick. I’ll look back and think it was silly turning green. But it was silly, and that was the point. I was sick and then I was calm and then I could be green. Reminds me of a strawberry I met once. I’d like to be a strawberry, but I’m scared I’ll lose the green. Or get sick again. But I think maybe I’m just meant to be small forever because I get sick cyclically. That’s okay, I think. I used to be terrified of staying small, but I think that maybe I’d like it. If I could just figure out when to take a drink, I think I could live in a forest somewhere and learn to live without the music.

There are three of us. I think I like being in threes. Or at least I have been a lot. It’s been at least three groups of three now, and so many stories. Maybe it’s okay to not know anything. I don’t know myself, or at least I didn’t for a long time. So stuck in being one of three. As within, so without. I have always been able to do a backbend, but I don’t think it’s innate knowledge at all because I don’t have it. Once, I met someone whose words made me think of orange and pink on a canvas and places I’ll never get to see. I wasn’t a zombie at the time.

I heard a story, several years ago now, and I can’t distinguish it from any other story. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Maybe with enough luck it’ll end up like raspberry or mistletoe. With cashmere there too. It feels like a story or two, like alliteration and the ghosts of Christmas past. I believe in dragons. I believe in dragons because if they didn’t exist, where would hummingbirds come from?

I don’t like mushrooms. Every time I think about roots, I think about mushrooms. I wish they weren’t so pretty sometimes, but they make me flinch when I look at them. I miss my grandmother. I think my grandmother knew dragons, because she talked to hummingbirds and she talked to herbs like they knew the recipe for chocolate soda. I’m going to miss my grandmother. I don’t think angels come in visions, I think maybe we all just need to take a breath and let the angels alone.

It feels like racing the sunrise. It feels like blurry summer nights and one time I married a boy in Paris. It feels like wanting to uproot myself just to see Vienna sooner. It’s all over, like no matter how cold the world is, there’s always a molecule that left me and tried to make the world a little warmer, and the world heard me and gave me summer. I’ve never seen a summer without Jim. At least in the winter, it doesn’t feel like splinters. It feels like once I knew a group of lemons and a lemon boy and I could always count on red. Yeah, I still have the windy nights, but prayers sound different when the hummingbirds don’t come say hi anymore.

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