March 21, 2016

MOSKOWITZ | One Summer

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One summer, I gutted the prickly bush that sat on the side of my driveway. I was much younger, but I can’t exactly remember when it happened. The bush sprawled out and a handful of stalks reached out to the sky and then curved back towards the driveway. The stalks formed bent bridges between a vibrant, green forest and the dirty blue of the asphalt.

Every time I pursued adventure, I had with me a pair of red metal shears. They were small enough to fit in my hand and be pressed together, but the blades were thick and wide. I would walk along the edge of the woods, smacking the jaws back and forth and slicing off bits of twig and branch.

I began by approaching the bush from the bent stalks that hung at the top of bush in the air. They were covered with tiny thorns that stuck out in straight lines, creating a spine running down the branches. I carefully swung my arms through these branches, snapping the limbs off with the blades of my shears that shone in the sun. The stalks dropped off and smashed onto the pavement, creating a pile of wood and thorns, all torn into pieces. After the destruction, I would try to sweep the carcasses back into the woods. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, there were always a few thorns stuck into the pavement, sitting directly underneath where branch had bridged concrete and forest.

Most of the time, I attacked the large stems that sat at the base of the bush. They had wide diameters, so the jaws of the shears barely fit around them. Rough bark covered their outsides in segmented patterns that peeled off only after being torn by the tip of the shears’ blades. However, what truly stood out were the large spikes sticking out of the branches. When I gazed at them, I could feel my chest rise up, building terror and excitement. These thorns, curved back and colored light green, had sharpened tips that could pierce skin. I would have to reach the shears down and twist them around the edge of the wide stems every time, trying to saw through the trunk and send puffs of wooden shards into the air. Yet as I cut through, my hand would occasionally collide with adjacent stems, sending the tips of thick thorns into my arm. They would poke small holes into my flesh that would swell with tiny pools of red, sending droplets of blood plunging to the dirt of the forest floor. These spears left bright maroon scabs across my hands and upper arms. This was the price I paid for tearing the bush apart. This is the price of sprawling under the sun, between the pavement and the woods soiled dark red.

It took many days, but I eventually gutted the bush.  The only remnants are a couple roots sunk so deeply into the earth that no scarred hand or sharp shears could pull them out. I think they still lie at the side of the driveway, as foundations of the forest. The dirty asphalt has probably been paved over by now and any thorns still stuck in its cracks are embedded, tiny pockets of sharp undergrowth, not piercing enough to puncture through the concrete.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to snapping off twigs, blindly navigating a sea of spikes and sawing into thick stems. Sometimes I want to sweep those stems and thorns back into the forest. Then I remember that I broke the bridge between concrete and forest and all the little bits of blood I spilled in the process can never come back.

Hunter Moskowitz is a sophomore in ILR. He enjoys playing the cello and running. His posts appear on alternate Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].