Every sentence from the novel Because containing the word “tree.”


I want to read my grandfather the story I wrote about the time he pounded a nail into a cedar tree with his bare hand.

I want to pound a nail into a cedar tree with my bare hand.

I want a happiness that grows between us, between my wife and me, like a tree in endless blossom.

I want a getaway place somewhere in Northern Italy with olive trees and fields of herbs, leaves blowing fragrant in river breeze.

I want to tell you about the time a childhood friend and I climbed high into a cedar tree with pellet guns slung over our shoulders.

I want to drive my children through the Puyallup Valley when they’re very young, and I want to point up to the mountain and tell the kids how their Great-Grandfather Riippi built a summer cabin there for Santa, in the white patch between the green and the blue, with a great magnolia tree in the yard that was always pink and purple in blossom, so the Clauses and elves could always find their way home through the snow.

I want to show you their tents, perched just above the tree line, where the rocks were white as the snow, and the snow was hard as rocks, and there was no pink or purple beauty in sight.

I want to chop the trees for the wood and fire the sand for the face.

I want to tell you more about my grandparents who lived in the lake house, with the cedar trees marked with nails in the yard.

I want my children to ride orange bicycles down tree-lined streets.

I want to throw pinecones at trees.

I want magnolia trees to rise from the depths and brighten in darkness.

I want music in the trees, something beautiful I’ve never heard before, like what our prayers might sound like to god.

I want to tell you how we used to play war in that lot, in The Woods, how we’d make bows and arrows from whittled sticks and tree limbs and shoot at each other or at pop cans we’d line up on flat rocks.

I want to walk along springtime sidewalks in New York City and have our children say how much the flowering trees bursting from the grey pavement look like whale spouts.

I want to live in a tree house.

I want to build a tree fort for my children.

I want to have been hiding in a tree high above the rose bushes, watching my grandparents and the sprouting magnolias below.

I want to tell you how we drank beers together and looked out at the lake and he told me the story of the time he pounded a nail into a cedar tree with his bare hand.

I want to sit alone on a tiny island with a single palm tree.

I want us to swim together amongst the tree trunks and falling petals, the blues and the greens and the magnolia, yellow sunlight warming the water with thick rays.

I want a house with a lawn and a street lined with trees.

I want a tree fort.

I want to dream of being a writer living in New York City, with a beautiful woman who loves me and a tree-lined street and a bicycle.

I want to climb into a magnolia tree somewhere, anywhere, and sleep and think about all that I already have and how much I don’t really need anything more at all. I want to plant a magnolia tree. I want to plant acres and acres of magnolia trees. I want to organize a guerilla art project and cover the parking lots of closed discount shopping malls with massive potted magnolia trees in bloom.

I want to plant magnolia trees in bottles and float them down the Hudson River, past Manhattan and out to sea.

I want to add magnolia trees blooming from the water and two surfers paddling through them. I want to draw a desert island with a single pine tree in place of palm.

I want to tap a maple tree for syrup and make breakfasts for troops in ugly, bloody snow.

I want to take a late afternoon swim in a Nile lined with magnolia trees in full blossom.

I want you to become my fan even if you hate the look of a magnolia tree in bloom, even if you hate grandparents and families and football and dogs.

I want to plant a magnolia tree outside the window nearest you so you have something beautiful to look at when you stretch your back.

I want to tell you how a bald eagle looked down on the whales from a tree and how maybe it saw nothing but all those salmon the whales were chasing, but how maybe it was wishing it were not a bird but a whale instead, capable to eat as many salmon as it wished in a single, more powerful bite.

I want to relive our ride to that fishing spot, the sun rising pink-purple over the evergreens, and I want to tell you how some mornings at my grandparents’ lake house the air could be so cold and wet that the trees’ needles turned blue. I want to tell you how we would wake into that early morning mist and fog and go out into the trees on a digging trip for earthworms.

I want all the city’s trees to grow taller than its buildings.

I want to know if that’s really a magnolia tree in front of the brownstone on 22nd Street or some other kind of tree and I got confused.



Photo By: Luca Pradella