Jacob Lawrence, "Children Playing," 1961
Jacob Lawrence, Children Playing. (1961)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

August 17, 2003:

The sound of cracking tree limbs. The realization that you're going to fall more than two stories onto the solid concrete sidewalk.

Summer. Bright sun, dry heat, the moist smell of newly-watered grass. Complex of two-story apartment buildings blocks wide, a half-mile long, sleepy in the heat alongside the edge of a wide canyon.

You're going to the top this time. Near your apartment is a tree whose top branches are well above the rooftops. From there you should be able to see the ocean. You can always smell the ocean, but it would be awesome to watch it for a while. Up you go.

Easy climb. You're tough and wiry and experienced. Pull yourself up to the strong lower limbs, then deftly hand-over-hand from one leverage point to the next. At last, gingerly, to the thin upper branches, where you happily discover that the view is exactly what you'd hoped for.

The only potential problem is that these top branches aren't very strong.

Straight down. No fear. No time to think about being afraid. More the wonderment that you seem to be falling slowly, as if some gentle hand were easing you toward the ground like a feather floating softly. No experience of brutal gravity, your bone-crushing enemy. The ride's as gentle as an elevator.

Stop. No longer moving. Instead you're seated upright, flat on your ass, on a bed of fallen tree branches which cover the hard sidewalk like soft pillows. You look around, blinking. Nothing's injured. The wind's not even knocked out of you. You stand up, brush yourself off, look closely at the broken branches which you rode safely from way up there to way down here.

No-one'll ever believe this.