Her Solid Universe

Genarro Rafael Pascual

Of course, I am talking about a place. For I myself am a place, and my physical limitations do not limit the limitations of one’s imaginings.

They tell you of kapre kingdoms that reside within my roots, within my tangle of trunks; though draw the curtains of my canopies, cleave open my body and there is nothing there but the stillness of my bark, that solid finality that kills the creativity of a mind.

Some regard me as a communal tombstone for several souls. But surely my horrid form brings no rest to those sleeping children beneath the world.

And then they tell you of other stories. Some may ring truer than others.

This is one of my stories.


I am talking about a place. At least with enough logic blurring – by way of metaphors and similes for instance – she may be considered a place.

Sweet child, I say to her on our last day together. Half-asleep, and barely noticing that I have spoken for the first time, she merely asks what it is that I want to say.

I gather my fruitless limbs and ruffle my leaves. The rain patters away, the wind lashes at my branches. I try to warm her as she rests against the brown comfort of my skin. The night sings with the melody of batrachian nocturnes.

This world has been unkind to you, I say in a voice of rattling foliage. If you will you may stay in this realm, for it has no ruler to speak of, and I myself am the realm. Through me, you can be an empress.

My empress.

She fixes herself in a cozier position within my trunks. Her beauty is a universe, where every giant is a dwarf. It takes me a while to catch the moving air and time it with my motion – to form my phrases, to form my voice.

“Then what?” she asks in her sleep before I can speak again. “I have a kingdom to rule but not a home.”

She sneezes. A high-pitched sound, reminding me of how little a creature she herself is. Or is it perhaps her distance defining her size?

A home is merely the longest place you’ve been in with the most comforting of company, I retort. In my realm, everything is as ageless as legend and there is no greater company than one who is the very place you belong to – where every floating molecule is a hand to wipe your tears away.

In my haven I am everyone, everything, everywhere.

“The only one, the only thing, the only place,” she whispers. “There’s no me, no thing for me, no time for me.”

The town twinkles a mile away, oblivious to us. And I think of why she’s here in the first place: to find a place for herself, to confide in the silence I offer. I try to count the fuzzy human lights but find them as countless as the stars. All those lights, and the only solace she finds is me.

Rain and mist blur the nightscape into a sleepy eye’s perspective: trembling and unclear. It is colder now. A small brown bird flies to me seeking shelter but I flick it away.

I bend my outstretched arm and huddle them closer to her. I raise some of my roots from underground to suck as much moisture from the surface she sleeps on, much as I can.

Sweet Child, I say. I give you a kingdom of myth, land not as far as the eye could see, but as far as one will it to be. I give you food and drinks yet to be conceived, poetry weaved from the very air you breathe. I give a world of white, with the freedom to etch your own imaginings.

Suddenly, she stands as if startled. She looks at me with wide eyes – blinking sparingly –taking in the hand-like configuration of my branches, as if trying to catch something invisible, unreachable. A moment of stares and she comes to herself, completely awake.

She takes a step back and whispers in a deadpan voice sturdier than any wood:

“You give me nothing.”

There were voices calling from the fog. “Daphne!” they shout. Lights part the haze and she follows them. The wind blows louder. The rain falls by the torrents, following a rhythm only it can understand.

Then sudden as it came, the rain stops. The clouds begin to scatter, revealing the stars.

And all is silent save for the twigs cracking with her every dimming step, ebbing towards the light, her solid universe. ▪