MOTHER sings a few lines from song "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." Stops.
Now go to sleep.
It will be all right.
Where are we going?
Somewhere safe . . . far away.
Will we be alone?
No. There will be other people.
People we know?
I'm not sure. Maybe.
Will I have my nightmares there, Mama?
No. No nightmares.
I'm scared, Mama.
You know people's heads can't really float above their bodies.
MOTHER is rocking DAUGHTER
Now go to sleep.
MOTHER hums. Black-out.
"Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the
King's horses and all the King's men, couldn't put Humpty . . . "
DAUGHTER interrupts MOTHER.
When can we go home, Mama?
"Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall . . . "
Will there be animals, will it be noisy, will there be Oreos, will Mrs. Anderson
visit, will there be dogs, will there be cartoons, will there be snow, will
there be bubble gum, will there be school, will there be Christmas, will
there be bugs, will Lucy visit, will there be clouds . . .
DAUGHTER stops. Pause.
Will there be clouds?
MOTHER shakes her head no. Pause.
Why Mama . . . why?
"You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky;
No birds were flying overhead—
There were no birds to fly . . .
There were no birds to
fly . . ."
MOTHER is singing to the tune of Old MacDOnald.
Your great great grandfather had a farm, Ee i ee i o
And on this farm he had some
What Mama, what did he have?
What did people have on farms? I don't know. Anyways, it doesn't matter . .
he lost his farm. My grandmother—your great grandmother—told me she
was born on a farm and then one day it was lost. Poof. Just like that.
DAUGHTER is repeating mother's voice.
Poof . . . just like that.
No more farm.
MOTHER shakes head.
Maybe they didn't look hard enough to find it, Mama. Or maybe they were lost
. . . and the farm was still there.
Maybe . . . Maybe
Did grandmother get another farm?
I'll tell you grandmother's story when you're . . . this tall!
This tall?! As tall as Alice after she ate the magic cookie?
Taller . . . ever so much taller.
How much taller, Mama?
So tall that your feet wear asteroids for shoes, so tall that your head shades
the planet Mars, so tall that your arms, your arms—
Hug the earth? Can they hug the earth, Mama?
Yes, they can hug the earth . . . they can hug the earth . . . they can hug
the earth . . .
MOTHER is crying. Black-out.
I remember . . . ice cream on a cool night, dogs barking in the backyard, shopping
carts filled with food, grandmother's pearl necklace, sand in between my
toes, striped cotton shoelaces, ivory liquid soap, tin foil, the wonder bra,
leftover meatloaf, self-help books, can openers, weeping willow—
Weeping willow trees, Michelob, fried catfish, Lysol, Webster's dictionary,
post-it notes, clean hair, gold crosses, loose change, gas cars, free water,
Sunscreen . . .
Sunscreen, skin cancer, polluted wells, garbage dumps, syringe beaches, subway
crashes, road warriors, pimps, priests, prostitutes, prayer in schools, plastic-wrapped
food, football, gas masks, global warming, dead fish, the smell of burning
trees, of burning
MOTHER stops, looks at DAUGHTER.
"Clouds, clouds, clouds in the sky,
The heavenly washing is hung out to dry!
Billowing, bellying, full in the breeze,
Leaping and tugging as gay as you please.
Look, children, look at 'em! If they was mine,
I'd be in dread that they'd blow off the line."
Mama, look how big I've gotten. Tell me grandmother's story.
If you can name one type of tree, I'll tell you the story.
That's not fair . . . but let me think . . . Oh, I know, I know—an apple
Yes! There were oak trees and maple trees and weeping willow.
But today I'm going to tell you a story about
grandmother and—guess which kind of tree?
An . . . apple tree!
MOTHER settling in.
Once upon a time there was a woman—my grandmother—who lived in
an apple tree. She had discovered this tree—which looked like a run-of-the-mill,
everyday, ordinary tree—after searching for more than a hundred years.
The tree provided her with everything she needed—fruit for food, leaves
for clothes, branches to rest in—and good friendship. She was happy
and the tree was happy. "Don't sit under the apple tree, with anyone
else but me," she'd serenade on starlit summer nights, cradled in the
tree's gently rocking limbs. But their happiness was not to last. One dark,
day all the trees in the world died, leaving this one little tree as the
last of its kind. News spread like a plague about the sole surviving tree,
and the woman who lived as its companion. Suddenly, without warning—in
fact, right out of the blue—teeming hordes swooped down upon the happy
pair. "Alien tree invades earth!" "Who's behind this hoax?" "Hey,
lady, we'll give you a billion dollars . . ." "Did your father beat
you with apples?" they shouted and shrieked, their endless barbs and
queries shaking the tree and the woman to their very roots. And when all
had spewed out (though it's funny how they never asked the most important
question), do you think the swarming crowds went home? No! Not yet satisfied,
they desired something more. At first it was just the tiniest piece of bark
and the itsiest bitsiest little leaf . . . but later it was gouged slices
off the tree's gnarled roots and whole branches severed from the trunk. The
tried to repair the tree—for every fallen leaf or lost limb, she carefully
cut off a piece of her own body and grafted it to the tree in the hopes of
saving it. But the tree, its apples now bleached an ashen white, was dying. "Don't
sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me, with anyone else but me,
with anyone else but—" the woman sang over and over until her
voice grew hoarse—and then was lost forever. And still the angry mob
wanted more. "Last
tree, my foot—it's dead like all the rest." "Satan appeared
to me in the branches last night—it's an omen!" "Cut it down—at
least we can get something for the wood . . ." they crowed and cawed,
cameras poised like birds of prey ready to capture the tree's imminent demise.
summoning her last ounce of breath, cried out: "ENOUGH…ENOUGH… ENOUGH!"—but
no one could hear her, and in any case, they weren't listening. In fact,
no one had listened for a very long time. (The whole world, it seemed, had
been struck deaf.) It was then Grandmother understood what she had to do. "I
won't let them hurt you any more," she silently vowed to her stricken
companion as she wound her naked, broken body around the tree's barren trunk.
And then quietly . . . and very tenderly . . . grandmother, in a final act
of desperation, set
MOTHER abruptly stops talking.
Go on mother . . . what happened?
Do you want the happy ending or the sad ending?
Happy, of course!
"I won't let them hurt you anymore!" grandmother silently vowed as
she wound her naked body around the tree's barren trunk. And then suddenly, mysteriously,
Grandmother cast an invisible magic shield around her and the tree and poof!
What do you think the people saw on that cold moonless night? A ring of fire
that reached up, up, up into the air! And in the morning, all that was left
were a few ashes . . . and a puff of smoke—why, it looked like a cloud
hovering in the sky.
But what happened to grandmother and the tree?
She took the tree and went to a secret place, a planet far far away she had
found in her travels. And she replanted the tree and made a new world . .
. and they lived happily ever after.
Is that where we're going?
The very place . . . the very place. So don't be afraid . . . because Grandmother's
tree is waiting for us.
Now go to sleep and dream new, beautiful dreams . . . and the next time you
wake up, perhaps one of your dreams will come true.
DAUGHTER lies down and purs her head in MOTHER's lap. MOTHER looks out.
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul,
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden."
MOTHER lies down. Black-out. The end.
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