Artist, animator, writer, designer, professor- Rue Sparks has worn a lot of labels, but the one thing they’ve always aspired to be is simply a storyteller. They cross-genres and formats, mixing together metaphor and expressive characters to teach the viewer something they didn’t know they already knew.
This was one of the early poems that they wrote in her career, comparing their life to a rotted treehouse, built anew through loss and grief.
Roots and Brambles
My heart is an old, rotted treehouse
Half of it sits awkwardly,
precariously perched on the limbs and trunk of a sallow tree.
The nails stick out of the wood
where pieces have been torn off by the wind,
the wood itself ready to break at the slightest touch.
Its decomposing planks shredded at awkward angles,
bugs crawling through the musty fibers.
I have memories of it being carefully planned and built.
Sometimes in spurts,
sometimes after a while of lackluster prodding,
but built nonetheless.
Maybe not the sturdiest of foundations,
the most well-thought-out plans,
or even the highest grade materials.
But it was built.
echoes of its footholds and rails
that used to climb up the tree into the sky,
seem to fall down towards the forest floor.
The more rotted pieces lay underneath leaves and twigs,
covering it well enough
that it might as well never have existed.
They decay under the mass of debris,
food for the worms who have no idea what they are doing
to what was once the heart of my life.
At first glance,
it evokes sadness.
Want for once was.
A place that once had brilliance, love,
left to rot in the middle of an unending forest.
But then I take a step back.
I begin to see the light cascading down through the trees,
the sun gold through the canopy.
The translucent leaves of the tree
seem to glow in the light.
my eyes travel to the tree itself.
Fresh, green moss and vines
grow through the branches,
intertwining with the limbs of the tree.
Choking it, yes,
but a beauty all its own.
A bird’s nest is cradled in a high branch,
messy in the best of ways,
all scattered twigs and twine and mismatched threads
that must have been salvaged from what was left of the treehouse.
I see small sprouts,
small emblems of hope.
Maybe they will grow into another tree,
or some other flora,
or maybe it will die
as the seasons turn from summer into fall.
But for now,
they are little slivers of love
grounded in the crumbled remains
of what I had built.
Nothing has changed about the treehouse.
It is still broken,
still decaying where it stands.
The vines will eventually choke the branches,
and one day this forest will be chopped down
and nothing will be left of my little treehouse.
It will be a forgotten memory
in the grand scheme of what this world is to become.
But for now, something grows.