The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Sugar rather than salt in my wounds

Rachael Conlin Levy

Her no got to me. I’d waited since December for the call, patiently phoning twice more to leave messages. In the meantime, my family hauled in a mountain of manure, eight bales of straw and a truckload of mulch to prepare the front lawn for a garden. Now the phone rang with the answer, an explanation that was lengthy, convoluted and bureaucratic, but when boiled down was simply no. Please, I’d said, please, there must be a way for us to find a compromise, for me to get my sun and you to get one tree closer to achieving the city’s desired canopy coverage. But she didn’t want to talk about middle ground, so the conversation ended with a terse goodbye.


My hand that held the receiver shook.

This maple tree would grow slowly and steadily, its shadow enlarging each year until the house and I were engulfed in darkness, the lavender and tomatoes and peas and roses yellowed and stunted, and my own face a pale moon from lack of sun. I imagined fighting the decision, of uncovering city documents that supported my position, of meeting with a supervisor, of seeking help from my city councilman. I imagined backing into the sapling with its trunk no bigger than my wrist, of poisoning it, of moving it under the cover of night.

I will do none of this.


But this is what I vow: When this sugar maple towers over me, and my children’s children climb in its branches, I will tap its trunk for syrup and make it bleed.

5 responses to “Sugar rather than salt in my wounds”

  1. Come on people, let Rachael and her fam let a little sunshine in.

  2. Rachael says:

    Denise, for that show of support you can have one of our first tomatoes.

  3. Beth says:

    I’m so sorry, Rachael. I’m sending you cross-country,virtual hugs and applaud your determination. (btw…I’m sure that Seattle maple syrup is to die for- your grandchildren are in for a treat).

  4. […] of them in the fall. Oh, well, at least this part of the yard is growing while the front’s conversion from lawn to vegetables has me chewing my lip over seedlings that sprout and then […]

  5. […] one lover wounds another, and it contains a beautiful metaphor about tapping into a heart like when someone taps a maple in spring to let the “sweetness run […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter