Baobab in the museum.
imagine that you are in a museum.
you are looking for a painting you’re told is most captivating.
you walk around the maze of nothing white walls and abstract black and blues.
and yours are the only footsteps you hear.
imagine you are told that this painting is haunting.
that there’s pain, palpable, sitting just beneath the translucent surface
Something perceived as much too dark to touch
you have been told, that if you touch this darkness, like some people have tried to do, it is all-consuming, never-ending and inescapable
to you, it is terrifying, so you’re not sure why you keep walking.
you’ve been told, to forgive the darkness and to focus on the translucent skin of the subject, to make out the veins and capillaries instead of wonder about the sludge running through them.
to you, that makes no sense at all, so you’re not sure why you listen.
you’ve been told that the darkness did not come from the subject but was implanted and grew like a baobab beneath the skin, unable to penetrate the surface, but still too large to be kept hidden. the tree is fatigue and weary bones and watery eyes and heavy mind. but the tree cannot be explanted, the task is too long and too strenuous and would put the planters too much at fault. It’s is better, you’re told. To leave the tree alone.
To you, the pain of dragging roots from the ground sounds more pleasant than allowing the weeds to grow. So you’re not sure why you don’t object.
You are told that baobab’s like this, contrary to truth, grow in all the most inconvenient places, all the time. You are told that everyone leaves them alone. You are told you ought to do the same. You are told that it is better for everyone in the ecosystem that the tree is left alone. You are told that to take it out, would make you insane.
when you finally reach the painting,
You recognize this tree.
This tree is in your father’s garden, he leaves it alone.
This tree is in your grandmother’s garden, she planted flowers around it, she rakes the leaves that fall from it. Mostly, she leaves it alone too.
This tree is in your sister’s garden, she’s mad with work at not leaving it alone.
the frame is white gold and the canvas is a mirror.