Sunday, May 2, 2010

a heart is not a valentine

In the solitude of a January morning, when its life on Earth has ended, a Christmas tree will undecorate itself, loosening the wire ties that twist the ornaments around its branches and packaging them in familiar shoeboxes between layers of folded tissue, being careful not to loosen the macaroni pieces arranged to resemble beards on the faces of three wise men.

Newly naked, the Christmas tree folds its arms inward against its trunk, pressing its conical body into a flattened triangle of sorts, its needles growing so indistinct that, except for the sawtooth pattern down either slope of the triangle, the shape retains no trace of its former branches, scrubbed of its prickliness and the smell of its sap. Now the tree is merely a symbol of a tree, colored unnaturally green to mask the fact of its death. In this final act of translation from one realm into another, the tree becomes a memory of a tree.

When a heart stops beating, its muscles become crayon red and puffy like a balloon. A valentine is where a heart goes when it dies.