i stop going to the 5th grade after three weeks because the brown girls call me nigger and the white boys call me ugly and kathy the fat girl (who everybody makes fun of) doesn’t want to be my friend either. so i take to climbing to trees. that’s the best thing about albuquerque and our new house that sits on the at the end of a dirt trail on an acre of valley land. we have all kinds of trees in the yard. crabapple trees that bloom into clouds of pink. cottonwoods that line the ditch behind the house and flex their muscles against a flirty sky. tall trees with sturdy arms and sweeping views of the adobe houses the horse ranch down the road. the noisy canopy of the exotic bird farm half a mile away.

this is also after mama starts sitting on the back porch in the dark or sleeping the day away. after papa starts going on tour more and after eve becomes too cool to play dolls with me. so what else is there to do but climb? and besides i have a favorite tree. it grows in the very back left hand corner of the yard behind the chicken coop and the compost pile. a cottonwood holding the leftovers of an old tree house five rickety steps nailed to the trunk. a 4 x 4 platform with a couple of slats missing and a rusty zip-line no one dares use. after slugging a bucket of carrot peelings egg shells and coffee grinds and dumping it into the stinking heap i wipe my hands on my red raincoat and climb the tree to sit on my throne. i take out my notebook and a pair of binoculars i stole from the children’s museum a pen and then i get to the real business of living. recording.

i can see and feel everything up here. through the leaves the sky yawns its dusky burnt colors over the land. and when it gets dark and i hear mama slamming dinner together in the kitchen i climb down and walk back to the house. eve pauses on the phone and rolls her eyes at me what do you see up in that stupid tree anyway? she says you’re not harriet the spy you know.