There’s a black walnut tree beside the driveway that my brothers and I tried to kill one spring evening when we were teenagers and it was just a seedling. Now it drops fat green planetary objects from 50 or even 70 feet up, another one landing on the old cracked tarmac every so often with a heavy thunk, like a worn-out clock that has forgotten how to toll. But the tree’s in the prime of youth; it is I, the one-time would-be assassin, who has turned decrepit. I have a fan in a little cage that I turn on my face in the heat of the summer, and for most of the other three seasons, my bony knees remain cold no matter how many layers I wrap them in. The falling walnuts remind me not of harvest-time and blessings as they should, but of all the projects I’ve abandoned, including love, reproduction, a career, the whole matter of being a useful citizen.

It should be noted that we have plenty of squirrels, so sometimes the walnuts don’t fall on their own; they are pushed. Maybe the squirrels are simply clumsy, and drop the nuts by accident. But I’ve watched them do it, and I have to say I think they relish the sound of a walnut connecting with its unmissable target the earth, like bored kids with a frisbee aiming for the terminal bud of a tree seedling at the edge of the yard, and shouting with triumph when a lucky throw shaves it bald.

7 Replies to “Goal-oriented”

  1. Plock says the walnut
    Dislodged from its stem
    By a mischievous squirrel.
    Its fate, to germinate–
    or be devoured–
    or inspire melancholia.
    Or still yet: become
    for words
    that spill into
    either an ether
    or a page that will be read
    in centuries.

    1. Thanks for the poem, Pica. Copy it onto parchment with black walnut ink, snap a picture, and I’ll be happy to feature it at VN! (Which will, of course, not guarantee its immortality nearly as well as the written page, parchment or otherwise.)

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