Jessica Perez

Or a Writer’s Burden


Shhhhhhhh I’ve been sleeping for two hundred years. I’m still tired. Two times 1000 moments I’ve spent thinking of different ways to love you. And you I’m in love with you. And your praise why that’s all I want. No that’s a lie. I want you to roll around in my narrative thread, and wallow in my angelic prose. Stay up late thinking about me. Feel comforted in the fact that someone somewhere takes the time to understand why you are the way you are. That makes you so much better than the others, because the ones that don’t question aren’t worth a damn. Aren’t worth my words, my love, or our tears when they disappoint us.


T he task, hanging my words in such a way, that you can an infamous a-rhythmic tone deaf dabbler revel in the ecstasy of a muted trumpet. Show you not tell you how Hitler felt when it all came apart or how good old love can taste. I can take you on adventures of the mind the heart AND the body. Yes, even the body. I can turn you on and turn you off. No, it’s not easy, but I am up for the challenge. Many have come before me and many on the way. Hopefully so, so damn exciting. When I’m not a stranger.


S tranger things have happened in space. MySpace your space that space between where the hip meets the hand. Then some guy or girl throws the monitor out their window because spaces can’t fill voids. Holes where hearts and hands and time fills. I like my filling of the cherry persuasion. You can touch it and feel it squish between your toes. You can’t quite keep it familiar in your hand, but you like it cause sometimes it reminds you of the way your mom used to hug you when you came home sick from school with a temperature of 99.9 degrees centigrade. Real at once and abstract, because everything is better exaggerated. I will tell your story. I will bear your starved burden. READY?

There once was a girl who fell in love with a tree. It’s true and a lie.


S he fell asleep in an Arboretum. She had slept through spring. She only woke when her throat was tickled. She reached down and pulled out a silk worm spinning tales in the back of her throat. She was stunned. The silk worm looked at her with a smug little worm face. It gazed up down all around and back at her. The nature-lover’s name was Annica, Annica and the Arboretum. That’s the title of the story okay? So you can tell your friends. The silk worm kept looking at Annica and glancing at the tree. Annica pulled a tale from the back of her throat. It said:



So she did. But not before she looked on skeptically. Whose tree was this? And would they mind if she climbed about it like a jungly gym? Would some bored security guard securely place her feet on the ground? And was it safe? Was this tree sturdy, tall yes, but looks can be deceiving.


S he didn’t know love, or what it looked like. Her nose couldn’t quite recognize the promising smell. Because of the movies and her parents (let’s not place blame) she could not detect a note of hunger or the rage that REAL love requires. Call her jaded, but that’s not her name. It’s Annica remember? Annica and the Arboretum. Did you spell that right?

T he tremendous tree towered before her dwarfing her like a bear cub beside its momma. Gnarled with age but callow with tenacious blooms; She stared at the organic mass in contemplation. She stared and stared, eventually some unforeseen force (not the weather silly, love) sent her from potential to kinetic. Annica climbed up to a branch and settled in like a dove. The bow of the branch fit her moderately large curves reverently. She took a breathy glance, to be held so close and so secure felt criminal. A breeze got caught in the canopy and Annica watched as it danced around in the most intimate stretches of the tree. The way the leaves moved to and fro with reckless abandon excited Annica, and she wished she could spontaneously sway with the intimacy of the wind. On that first night her eyes were open wide till the sun peeked through the horizon like a meek child. For the first time in her life she didn’t want to open her mouth. Every square inch of her skin, her organs, and her near-sighted eyes was systematically memorizing the moments that came before and after and were happening. How long would this supreme feeling of struck inspiration last?


A fter many days perched atop the tree Annica thought she heard the tree whispering wild words in her ears. But she disregarded the feeling altogether. She climbed to another branch and it too had seemingly been fashioned to fit her snugly; As if assembled according to her measurements in an off-site factory. The bark of the tree revealed secrets mother nature herself would be jealous of. She hung upside down, right side up, and even stretched her legs in a reclining pose. Annica would tell stories to the tree, recount old nursery rhymes, and sing the current top 40 as best she could. No one had ever spent this much time with the tree. As a result the tree bore sweet fruits and its branches became colored a rich hue of brown, not seen since the likes of the Garden of Eden. She embraced whole branches and tiny twigs touched as much as possible. The tree enveloped her in shade and leafy decadence. Annica glowed arborescent. Her hair became wild and her skin became rough like bark. She spent uncountable sun downs and sunsets in that tree.


O ne night a terrible storm slid its way into the arboretum. Lightning threatened to strike the tree.

Annica climbed to the highest branch, “How dare you? Take your static and your knocked-off electrons elsewhere! We’re happy leave us alone.”


The earth groaned and the air at once became more alive. The hair on the back of Annica’s neck stood up like tiny antennae. The night sky opened and lit up all around Annica and her Tree. The rain began to drop out of the sky hard and fast. Annica wasn’t afraid, and that was a first. She bowed out her chest and cupped her hands and yelled once more, “I’m not afraid of you, we’re INVINCIBLE.” At once the rain let up. The lightening bumbled off in the distance, threatening some other lovers no doubt. It was uncomfortably quiet. Annica looked around. She choked up and the tears began to flow. Try as she may, Annica could not plug up the waterworks. The tree had been shook. Crumpled leaves lay about the base of the tree, some hanging limply holding on for life. She had never seen her lover like this. The Tree seemed to droop all over. Her friends the nesting birds had flown off, their home turned upside down. One speckled egg cracked and oozing lay lonely and lost in the knot where the nest once sat. A deep seed of sadness took root in the bottom of Annica’s toes. But the storm was over and eventually Annica’s tears became joyful and sustenance for her Tree. Exhausted they both fell asleep.

A nnica and the Tree never woke up. Fall came and went. Their hair and leaves turned golden, but they were so content and exhausted in one another that they slept through the fiery season. And wouldn’t you? The smells are intoxicating they put you into that cozy mood. They were in love far deeper and magnetic than you or I can understand. And I’m sorry I must be the one to break it to you (no, I’m not), but they both have expired. Well didn’t you see it coming? Winter is death. They continued to sleep through the holidays. Finally they froze. Annica is stuck in time, straddling the highest branch. Her eyelashes are icicles, and her head is as barren as the Tree. It was a pitiful sight for her family and the homeless man who found her stuck like a freezer pop in that tree, but that’s the beauty of it all. It was their secret. A secret world filled with the rage of nature and love and passion (oh the passion). Don’t get all sappy on me, they were the best they ever had. They lived and died in truth, which is more than many can say. If it makes you feel better, the look on her face frozen for eternity is a nice content smirk. I bet it’s driving her family crazy.


“Annica never even liked to go outside as a child, why was she in that tree? Why is she smiling

like that? Was it drugs? That’s the only explanation, an autopsy please.”

Hey, they could both be in this room right now, re-incarnated as you and I. When our eyes meet a flicker of recognition and bam, we fall in love all over again! Yeah probably not. But God it’s great to be alive.


I ’d like to think of myself as a messenger from god. The god of green fields, loving trees, Hinduism, cancer, and Christmas. Lakoff told me it was okay to have a little ego. Well I have a lot, and I think that’s more than okay. Someone has to be the resident story teller and damnit why can’t it be me? I’ve spent 22 years gossiping, tall tale telling, proofreading, exaggerating the commonplace. How would you ever have known about such raw passion? Now you know it’s there you can go find it. Take a nature walk …You are welcome. I love you whether or not you love me, did I tell you that? Of course I didn’t. That’s not really my style. Well did you know that some people laugh when they orgasm and some people don’t listen very well? Those people are NOT me. Yes they are. But you are me too, and I am sure you can hear earthworms sigh. I can’t cause I have a heavy heart and two holes in my ears that the doctor drilled to let out fluid when I was eight. Can you believe that? An eight year old counting back from 100 till she fell into a dream-state, just so a doctor could poke around in her most private crevices? It’s amazing what people entrust to complete strangers. When I awoke I didn’t feel reborn, and I couldn’t hear any better. As a result, I’ll never make-it with an earth worm, but I did get to eat Jell-O.


In 2006 I deleted my MySpace account.

In 2008 I finished my first book.

In 2009 I climbed a tree.

In 2012 I made love atop a mountain of blankets and pillows.

In 2012 ½ I died in a field of words and hippy punctuation.

It took me two hundred years to recover, but I was reborn again. As a _______.

And today I feel more alive than ever.

I recently decided that your face is too clean and innocent for this “piece.” Go back to your Disney movies and happy endings. And don’t tell anyone about my ego, it’s not really my style. Please don’t go. Ask yourself why she was in that arboretum in the first place. You wouldn’t get it anyway. Forget everything you’ve ever learned and go ride a bike. Make love like an animal and taste the dirt.


Dirt dirt dirt mud and angel faces. Be reborn and come back as a kid (child).




Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790