We are standing beneath the trees
or do we walk alone next to each other.
Vague are my memories and so are yours.
I wish I could speak with them, for trees remember
if they could only tell me
if we were walking alone next to each other.
I recall that moment when you turned into a faun,
with beautiful wooden antlers, taken from the forest floor.
I remember the clouds in the sky
and the sound of your heavy hooves on the Soil.
I remember the voices of the birds
and the wind playing with the rotten leaves.
I simply cannot tell
if we were standing beneath the trees
or if we were walking alone
next to each other.
There came a summer and an autumn after it.
A winter and a spring followed.
A circle that repeated itself several times.
I stood there, beneath the trees
until the snow became heavy on my shoulders.
Until the brown leaves covered my feet.
I stood beneath the trees hoping that the wind would remember, hoping that something would tell me if after all, we were walking there alone, next to each other;
for there are deep lacerations on the tissue of my memory;
gushing wounds along its surface.
There came a summer and an autumn after it with a winter and a spring following.
The circle repeated itself a few more times.
Since I tried to remember
I wrote tree so many times that it became a forest.
I wrote forest so many times that it became a sculpture.
I wrote so many sculptures that they became a region to walk in.
I roam beneath the words.
Walking alone; becoming lost;
finding It wander inside the old growths.
The creature looked at the burned root and trunk. The bark seemed to be mere chunks of charcoal assembled together; crumbling and falling with every finger stroke. There was no ash left around the fallen tree. Rain had washed it and soaked the burned mass.
The beginning of the root system resembled an open decaying flower; gathering of souls; nocturnal ones long dead with wings spread open. A flower like those the creature saw blossom on the antlers of the Twig Collector. White and silver-brown moths were fluttering in the cavities between the roots, small reflections were slipping from their wings onto the charcoal.
The creature bent Its torso slightly to the side and looked at the rest of the fallen One. The trunk was disappearing in the fluff of the understory yet the foliage of the shrubbery seemed undisturbed. The tree must have fallen with no more than a gentle thumbing sound; a release of a long-held sigh. Or rather, it just had happen to grow and spread branches horizontally, laying on the ground and it had been burned on the spot.
The creature shook Its head; a gesture of disagreement with the thoughts roaming Its very mind. The tree was struck by lightning; by the ferocious illumination that escaped from the sky as the sound of thunder tore through the fabric of the air. Then, the tree’s tissues were enveloped in a flameless fire. A fire eating away the flesh beneath the accommodated centuries of the bark; eating all the way to the pith, where the life force dwells.
Now soil was covering the hole in the ground, where the roots once were. The burned pith; the extinguished life force was charcoal and ash and soil. Ash remained there. Soil soft and soggy. Light grey; almost white. “Bleached bones” thought the creature.
The creature wondered if there was anything under the bark or if the tree was now a hollow cylinder of burned long deep-carved wrinkles. But It dared not to confirm this theory. To brake in the bark; to cause a crack in the body and violate the pease of the fallen by disturbing the uninhabited tissue.
The moths were clinging onto the burned skin. Perhaps there was some life force remaining in the tree and the moths could sense it. Not all the water drops were evaporated; not all memory was lost.
No. There was still memory to be retrieved from the tissue. The moths were guarding the tree in its long and slow dying process.
The dying tree might still outlive the moths. Yet the moths would stay; waiting for the water to find its way through the xylem and join the morning mist. They were waiting to absorb the memory; the contribution of this individual to the collective knowledge of the events that came to pass. Let it mix with the vapour of the dawn and incorporate it in their own being; become it.
-and thus preserve it, for water is memory. The memory becomes mist.
Trees never die.
The creature was walking in a landscape It had never seen before. A wide valley full of black volcanic rocks with sharp and as large as Its head.
The Sky above the hills was empty of colours and of clouds.
Trees were not living here for there was nothing for the fallen leaves to cover. The light of the sun and the moon could never reach the soil of this valley for the night dwelled just beneath the rocks.
The creature looked at them.
It walked on them and started counting Its steps.
Or so It thought, for It was actually counting the rocks.
It wanted to have them all under Its feet.
All of them at once.
It wanted to hold them in Its arms.
All of them.
It stretched Its arm to pick one from the ground.
It felt the sharp edges scratching Its flesh but It could do nothing but hold it and bring it close to Its head.
It looked at it.
Its hand was bleeding.
There was no blood on the rock; as if it was absorbing it.
The creature then realized that It didn’t know what was the colour of Its own blood.
It didn’t want to know so It had to fight the desire to look at Its hand.
The rocks were much lighter than It expected.
It picked another one and another and another.
Its hug was soon full of black volcanic rocks.
Its hands and arms and torso were in pain but It could not convince Itself to leave them. Its muscles tensed but It walked with the weight in Its arms and It was smiling for It thought It was happy.
For It could not admit that the rocks, these beautiful black volcanic rocks were causing pain, nor that It felt mortified for losing Its own blood.
The night emerged from the ground to cover the skies and withdrew again several times and the creature was still walking.
It was tired; tired of walking while carrying the weight of something else.
The weight of someone else, for the rocks were alive (long time ago after the Old Ones stoped building the landscapes of the world the moonlight woke the rocks into existence).
Its arms let them fall one by one.
It looked at Its skin; it was covered with blood.
Coloured with an indescribable shade that It never saw on the trees.
The creature then realized that it was Its own blood It was looking at.
It felt something boiling inside of Its chest.
Something dark and hot and heavy.
It wanted to break and smash and destroy them.
The rock, that first rock It picked up was responsible for this mess.
So It let the rest of them fall except that first one.
Then It forced it to the ground with Its hands.
It forced it to break, and it did.
A trench crawled from the one side to the other.
A black wound in the middle of the rock, as if all the celestial darkness was sleeping inside it.
Then the rock cracked into pieces and the creature fell forward scratching Its antlers and left cheek on the edges of the crack.
Severe pain replaced the anger.
Tears washed away the blood.
The rock is existing, broken.
The creature kept on walking caring the knowledge of breaking someone as lust and anger had shaped Its inside.
bedtime story; (noun)
a story told (to a child) at bedtime.
Bedtime stories are more than a fairytale told to kids before or in order to sleep. Bedtime stories are flakes of memory shared across generations. They are an intimate moment; a moment of care towards the young ones. There is a duality in this intimacy. Elders’ and children’s reminiscences meet inside the magic of the story; they arrive to that foreign place from opposite sides yet they both become spectators of it.
Bedtime stories are what we care to talk about to children. They are also what we were told as children. Threads and sparkles of wisdom, morality, values and truth woven into a comforting blanket to cover us before sleep. A blanket to keep our kids warm and protected against the unknown and scary darkness of the world out there. They are the very matter of the lens through which the world is taking shape.
By narrating, we determine what as well as how we see around us.
Bedtime stories are what we deem worthy of telling.
(also woods) A collection of trees growing more or less thickly together (esp. naturally, as distinguished from a plantation), of considerable extent, usually larger than a grove or copse (but including these), and smaller than a forest; a piece of ground covered with trees, with or without undergrowth.
The woods are thought to be an area which is smaller than a forest and larger than a grove, and which has been growing naturally. This is a word which indicates classification. To classify, one needs to observe, to transform entities and places to objects with or without common features.
Classification requires to sum together clusters of meaning. That is, to encapsulate concepts, objects and living beings under one overarching term and merely imply (or not) its constituent parts. This process has to occur. The world around, the vastness of the forests, is simply too large and complex for our words to accommodate. We need to simplify, to imply, to suggest, extract, avoid, name, summarise. Alternatively, we would need to find new words that do accommodate this complexity, or we need a different communication means altogether.
Woods is the place where the trees are. Also, the place where humans and their words are not. Further, humans cannot be or do not know how to be there because no story talked to us about the trees and the woods as such. The definition does not include us (in an explicit manner).
A group of trees is called a grove
Long ago, the earth had no landscapes nor oceans. The Soil was flat, hosting no life. The firmament was empty of clouds and stars. There was nothing but a grey mist and gloom. This quiet world was the domain of an ancient kin. Entities that roamed the shapeless soil. Giants, as old as the world itself.
The Giants were beautiful creatures. Their eyes were bright and their limbs strong; with no mouth on their faces, for their language was so old that it evolved into a low frequency, able to travel through the Soil and reach the ones standing close by. Tall as they were, they were moving slowly and with grace. Their movements were steady and meticulous. They would not move if it was not a necessity.
In that distant past, when even time was yet to be born, the Giants started to dig the Soil; plunging their fingers deep in the ground and removing dirt and rocks. Puddles and piles eventually grew to wider and deeper pits alongside larger and higher hillocks. But what the Giants did not anticipate, was that with this very action of digging, they created moments. Every moment was unique; distinct from the one before as much as from the one following it. This clear distinction between moments dissected a large immaterial entity in thin slices. Moments started sweeping the surface of the world. Time was born and in motion, never to be stopped again. For the Giants continued to create unique moments by digging deep into the body of the Earth and piling raw materials on top of each other. Dust, Soil and Rocks were now hills and mountains.
Sierras were emerging and stretching for endless miles. The distance between the meadows of the young valleys and the mountaintops was increasing. Warm shades of sepia were mixing with glimpses of amber orange and mahogany brown. Stones and rocks were dark grey with tiny white dots spread on their surfaces and when the Soil was originating from the pits’ bottom, it often appeared dark crimson red and black. The world was gaining a shape.
The deep pits, from where the Giants were extracting matter, were also becoming landscapes of their own; reaching for the darkness at the core of the Earth. But unlike the mountains and the valleys, these landscapes were not intentionally created. Being merely ever growing pits, they were hostile, dark and rough. The air was heavier and thicker. Time dared not to dive frequently in such depths, which made the movements of the Giants even slower than usually. In this suffocating environment, the Giants, gasping for air, would occasionally drop the Rocks they would extract and abandon them at the bottom of the pits.
The Earth was suffering. The pits were too deep and the weight of the mountains too great to be sustained by the ground. The Giants, ashamed and confused, looked at each other. Not a single word traveled through the Soil. Not a single thought dared to escape their minds and break the thick silence. Their ambition for colossal structures had damage the Earth by opening deep, sinister looking voids in its body.
Their sense of justice was too great to ignore such wrong doing and they soon broke the silence. A decision had to be made; mistakes ought to be acknowledged and corrected. They had to stop digging and building; they had to permanently stop extracting and dislocating materials. All Giants unanimously agreed to dig no more and for the next few hundred years they would merely gather in the valleys and the rough sides of the pits, smoothing the edges of the Rocks or simply talk to and hold one another.
But the ever moving time was bringing decay and deterioration to hills and mountains by sweeping Soil and Rocks to the ground. Dust was filling the atmosphere after every rockfall and vibrations were spreading to cause even more destruction. These events filled the Giants’ heart with despair. In the decadence of their creations they saw how vainly they had after all caused pain to the Earth. And so, they moved by thousands, to climb and mountainsides and hill tops, to grasp the Soil and hold the Rocks.
Knee-deep they stood, to stop the deterioration with their own torsos, stretching their upper limbs in the air to balance their weight and hold the siblings that stood nearby. In silence they The hours became months and the months years and decades. Centuries and millennia were crawling around them like a behemothian cattle.
The skin of their torsos dried and cracked creating deep scar-like wrinkles. Their legs started elongating, reaching deeper in the hearts of the mountains. Their veins extended and reached out of their bodies to become tangled with the Rocks, the Soil and the veins of other nearby Giants. These vast, unified vein and artery underground networks helped the Giants to come out of their millennia-old silent solitude and talk to one another, once again. Vibrations were no longer necessary; their language was from that point on a buzzing hum, transferred through the veins.
There they stood, calling themselves Old Ones, for they existed as Giants no more. There they stood, existing as Trees. Holding the Soil; guarding the Earth.
Of Trees: the Old Ones, 2016-2021, text.
Far from the northern edge of the largest of the pits, two Giants were building the highest and most hostile mountain of them all. Two knife-sharp tops were standing one next to the other, supported by a massive construction of granite stones and black Soil, held together by a vast network of salt crystalline veins.
As the millennia were passing the two mountain tops were simultaneously growing taller, each build separately by one of the two Giants, so they would always have the same height. The two Giants, loaded with stones and Soil were supporting each other’s way upwards only to the point the main mass of the mountain was divided. From a narrow plateau, laying as a frontier, they would climb separate paths, each caring their loan to their top.
Paths laid on the edge of craggy sides and often even vertical passages, leading ever higher, seemingly towards the void of the firmament.
During an expedition, the older of the two Giants, overestimated her powers and fell off a steep edge on the narrow plateau, hundreds of meters down. The heavy rock she was caring fell on the damaged body, moments before the life force forsake it, painfully crushing every bone of the skeleton.
Feeling the vibrations of the rockfall through the mountain, the younger Giant ran to her sister only to find lifeless remains under the rock and inside a white cloud of dust. The young Giant took the remains and the rock and transported them on her sister’s mountain top never to leave again; making the highest altitude of the Earth.
As the young Giant stood on the place her sister built, pain emerged from within her torso bringing with it bitter tears and a muffled cry that traveled through Soil and air, reaching every Giant on Earth. Devastated the kin mourned for the loss of their sibling; dropping stones and Soil; being motionless.
For the first time in centuries, the Giants stopped building, stopped moving and looked around, feeling the heartbeat of the Earth on the corium of their hooves.
The Two Gaints, 2016-2021, text.
The trees stood. The rain persisted. Darker and darker clouds colliding above the woods, reducing the millennia-old silence to shreds. Cold and sharp light broke through the clouds. A thunderbolt struck the lonely tree on the top of the highest mountain, where it stood before the rain start falling; where it stood before it was a tree. Its bark was torn apart, its crown shaken. The leaves detached from twigs, scattered on the ground. The twigs detached from the branches, embarked on an endless fall towards the stereobate of the mountain. The electric blade flayed the bark off the vascular cambium and cutting through the sapwood it reached deep in the pith, where the lifeforce dwells. But the tree did not die. Trees never die.
The tree stood, bleeding. The rain persisted. Thick, warm, blue liquid poured slowly out of the wound and followed the twigs down the abyss in heavy drops. The tree was bleeding the blue of the ocean. A blue warmth to flood the lacerations on the body of the earth, to fill the gaps like scar tissue.
All around the wounded tree, years were passing by. Its blood was dripping down, creating elegant creeks on the shoulders of the mountain and slowly digging its way inside the granite rock; finding the salt crystalline veins and dissolving the white mineral. The inexhaustible resin was filling the pits little by little, remaining separated from the light, clear raindrops.
As the years were unfolding, being dragged away like linen cloth, and the creeks were rushing downwards, the pits turned to puddles and the puddles to pools. Many of the long- fallen leaves were skeleton remains, with nothing but traces of mesophyll keeping the veins intact. As the pools grew the not yet decayed leaves floated on the surface, caring drops of crystal-clear rain on their wrinkled cuticle. The blue blood was not dripping any longer, but the creeks continued to spring from within the pith, running through the salty veins of the mountain and filling the cavities of the wounds of the Earth.
The Tree at the Hight Altitude: the Ocean, 2016-2021, text.
Leaves, 2020, graphite on paper.
The creature looked at the crushed claws. At the tiny, translucent talons; as thin as Its eyelashes.
It bent down and then sat with one knee on the Soil. Gravel and wet grass pressed on the skin around the kneecap. The gape flange was still visible and the feathers of the head not yet sprouted.
A crow nestling.
A dead crow nestling.
A dead thing.
A carcass, that is, a mass of rotting flesh and marrowless bones; endostea exposed to light.
Under the trees
and beneath the blooming weeds
Collecting the mist diamonds
Collecting the drops that walked astray
The short cool hours before the dawn
when all the breathing ones are sleeping their last dream
the water carriers roam the forest floor
absorbing the frozen cloak off stems and petals storing it within their fragile shells
(For water is sacred)
(For water is memory)
Shells of ice and porcelain
Clay – the stuff of bones
Ice blue and white
The early hours before each day
before the golden light arrives
and the ravens’ eyes open
the water carriers roam the forest floor