There is a wall of leaves across my little street. It took three years before I ceased feeling bereft when every September the handsome bearded men would arrive with their open top truck and long poles. They would hack away at the wall for hours, cigarettes dangling, until the pavement was knee deep in leaves, and the wall was bare. I would think, “Oh! They have killed this living beauty that made my road feel like a forest lane. How short-sighted of them?!” The men would return to pressure wash the walls a few days later. The imprint of the vines that had lived on them would darken over the days in-between, like an x-ray in negative, but the men were determined and scrubbed and hosed until the crème fraîche stucco was devoid of any residual visual memory of its tenacious tenant.
Then the Winter would arrive with its siege of easterlies, mornings of sipping tea in the dark, and on the streets, faces downcast against the wind. The Spring arrived long before the sun, with the insistence of a small bud, a point of brilliance in between the graveyard tones of brooding cloud and wet rotting leaves.
And then, some time around the first week of June, I would notice a burst of greenery on my neighbour’s barren wall. In less then three weeks, it would go from that vanguard to a most definite and confident ascent, an entirely new route would be found than any year before, through the great impulse of Life. This impulse soared through its constituents, giving direction. Grow. Grow. Grow. With no other particular instruction. I marveled at this Creativity. This impulse to start again. With no regrets or fears. But perhaps that was only from my point of view, eyeing the scene from my balcony. When I could no longer see the vine, I assumed it was no longer. I had somehow forgotten the less visible continuity below my own horizons. What seemed like a new beginning to me was aeons old a performance.
By the third week of June, the wall was as it had been when the handsome men in white canvas overalls arrived. There was no more ‘wall’ to be seen. Only a framed dance of serrated leaves, a goddess of a thousand hands, green upon green upon green. And then, in September, there they were again, one of them hacking with excessive determination at the last stubborn leaf, fluttering from beneath the gutter. He ended up leaving it, chucking his cigarette in the street, and driving away, his truck bed quivering with the harvest, soon to become a source of new decay in a lonely field, 12 kilometres away.
I took my tea to the balcony and watched the wall of leaves disappear, that had once seemed hope by fragile hope. Yet this time, the Return was there in the going. I was seeing with different eyes—one eye turned outwards to the starkness of the wall, the other eye turned inwards to the dark nudging movement underground.