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This report is taken from PN Review 257, Volume 47 Number 3, January - February 2021.

Stillness with Trees, and Plurilocalism Vahni Capildeo
Stillness is not a quality I associate with trees, or with the human body. Trees are naturally dynamic. They conduct lightning; they drop branches. Saman trees, or rain trees, are conspicuous for their huge canopies of fine, darkish leaves which muddle dusken skylines, easily being mistaken for a portion of hill or thundercloud. A saman tree used to grow next to the driveway of my parents’ house. It began to compete for upper airspace with the television aerial. Whenever hurricanes were in the area, we assessed the pitch of its tossing. Its root system ploughed up the driveway. We could see asphalt furrows radiating closer and closer towards the house and knew that roots were underneath.

Once, when I was out in the yard, the sky turned pale and the birds made a special, remote screeching as they flocked upward to the higher branches of the saman tree. The ground underfoot began to shake like thick split pea soup in an iron pot. I felt my legs being moved. I looked up and saw the tree being moved, just like me, but in a much bigger fashion. At that moment I was not checking for falling branches but looking for companionship. I was afraid of the tree, and sorry when it eventually was cut down. As for my body, it treats me to a continuous sound and light show: everything from migraine auras to tinnitus. An heroic effort to empty the mind is all very well, but what if one’s own body takes the side of distraction?

The fallacy, ...

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