Singing Tree explained

I didn’t explain. I forgot. The singing tree. What is it? What do I mean? No, it isn’t a reference to Enid Blyton’s Singing Ringing Tree. I never read it, though I think there was an adaptation of it on the TV when I was a child. He read it, I think. He read most of the Blyton books. I never really got along with them. There were too many children. I never belonged to a gang like that, I couldn’t relate to it, nor to Swallows & Amazons. I’ve always felt more comfortable alone, a Jane Eyre figure and consequently sought out heroines who felt the same, Anne Elliot from Persuasion, Anne of Green Gables, Jo from Little Women. Singular women, though of course belonging to my later years. I cannot remember many female heroes from my young childhood. I read Blyton but preferred what? I remember horsie books. Why? I’m not in the least interested in horses but I suppose it is what was offered. The Silver Brumby, I remember. And Black Beauty, of course.  I did read the Narnia tales, though I found them harrowing, particularly when Aslan was caught and tethered. And then there were the fairy tales. Grimm’s, Perrault’s, I lapped them up. Girls were alone in most of those, having to cope, be resourceful and inevitably finding happiness with a man. Ah, me. And so it was and ever will be.

No, the singing tree of my title is one that I pass on my return home in the early hours. It sings. It sings with bird song. Not a large tree but a noisy one. What are they? Robins, sparrows, blue tits? I walk past it and it seems to come to life. Chirruping, tweeting, calling forth the dawn. Marvellous.

A flooding of starlings have just flown past and the sky is blue grey. There they go again. Spanning the sky, they flit and dive, calling to each other. What sets them off?

I tried it and I will persevere. It made me tenser. So much resistance. Yet another thing I feel obliged to do. Where is the time? Where is the time to do all I wish to do? My lower body relaxed, it tingled, but the rest remained stiff as a board. I want to do well too much. Always needing approval. This is not about achievement, the voice intones. There is no right or wrong way. And then there is this drawing. I cannot figure it out. I hold the image of it my mind while I walk, brush my teeth and go about my day. Is it a trick? Why has she given it to us? I am disappointed that there is no euphoria. He says that’s good. The come down will be less. Anger, pain, grief are already there, waiting in the wings. Already and it’s only the first week.

It was busy on the Prom. It’s the mild air I suppose. Two security men at the Pier Pressure nightclub seemed to be chasing each other up the stairs when I passed. The younger fitter man sped up the stairs while his heavier, older colleague huffed and puffed after him. Or perhaps they were chasing a miscreant.

A still day, no rain so far. He has returned to bed. I prepare to work. I tried. She did not respond. That is her prerogative. She did it also. That long silence. Impenetrable. I am out of kilter. But if she choses isolation I must respect it. Let it be. All will come right that needs to do. I dreamt of old friends and how their kitchen cupboards were jam-packed with loaded platters of party food from years back. They’d been shoved in willy-nilly and forgotten. I wanted to find a clean plate for some fresh food. I must go and see him before he goes. I will go alone. Perhaps I will see her to?

A bientot.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.