Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

A Letter to Whoever is Wearing My Boots

by Treehouse Editors

Yael Hacochen

Each year in Ramat Hagolan, at least 1,200 cattle produce milk, feed on grain and oats, give birth, and die when their time comes. When the cows were under Syrian control they were spoken to in Arabic, and after Israel took control of the land in 1973, in the war of Yom Kipor, the cows of that region were spoken to in Hebrew, or Arabic. Depending on the farmer.

In the year 1997 a calf was born. She was the second-born heifer of a prize-winning cow and died by stepping on a mine. This could be where the story ended, if not for a change in the family business. It was exactly the month that the family that owned the calf decided its skin would be used for leather.

They called in a specialist, who was missing half a pinky from his days as an apprentice. The specialist stood in the middle of the green field and produced a sheathed knife. The knife was curved like a quarter moon. He worked with the utmost care so as not to leave a scratch. The skin came off in a single thin sheet, like the parting of red petals.

The leather was loaded onto a truck. It was removed and spread in a large metal container by the two agile hands of the craftsman. He noted that the skin was small in size and heavy in weight: perfect for a small woman’s combat boots.

The leather was laid out on a black rubber cutting mat, and a pattern was drawn. Using a trimming knife, the craftsman traced the leather as one would trace a lover’s back, until four symmetrical pieces lay detached.

The pieces were handed over to a young shoemaker who worked the leather into shape and attached it to a rubber sole. The letter “צ” was stamped at the top, where it was closest to God. A small pocket for dog-tags was added into the strip. Finally, they were shipped to a base in HaKiryaa.

It happened that in the year 2006, a bushy-browed Nagad chose them off the shelf, tied the shoelaces together in a timely manner and threw them in the back of his truck. Fate called me in to see the Nagad, who whispered like a boy with a crush: “I have a surprise for you”.

Friends died in that time. But they wore different shoes. My boots were never shot, never punctured, were never crushed. They only lifted one foot after the other, or both at once.


Yael Hacohen is a PhD student at UC Berkeley. She has an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where she was an ‎NYU Veterans Workshop Fellow, International Editor at Washington Square Literary ‎Review, and Editor-in-Chief at Nine Lines Literary Review. Her poems appear or forthcoming in The Poetry Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Every Day ‎Poets Magazine, Nine Lines, and many more. She was a finalist in the 2015 Glimmer Train Very Short Story Competition, the 2015 ‎Consequence Prize in Poetry, and the 2013 MSLexia Poetry Prize for Women.‎

 

Brief Encounter: Resolution

by Treehouse Editors

Elizabeth Poreba

The trick is
tight focus.

Look down. Stay
granular.

The dropped
stitch, the spot,
the knick, the note,
the knot, the twist—
small things
can be fixed.

When Jesus
at the Jordan
looked up,
all he saw
was heaven
torn apart.

Staying busy
is better.

When wading,
keep your eyes
on the river.


Elizabeth Poreba taught English in New York City high schools for 35 years and now volunteers for environmental groups. Her poems have appeared in Ducts.org, Feminist Studies in Religion, and Commonweal, among others. She has published a chapbook, The Family Calling (Finishing Line Press), and two collections of poems, Vexed and Self Help (Wipf and Stock).

This Week in Words – Feb 17

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

It’s been a hard, gruesome week, Treehousers. My heart, my grief, my sympathy, and my desire for action go out to the victims of the Parkland shooting: the lives lost, the survivors, and their friends and family.

Regardless of where you stand on gun rights, I think we can all agree to be against gun violence. So I encourage you to check out these organizations and donate, if you can.

Lest I leave you on a downslope, here’s a montage of laughing babies.

Be good to each other, people.

 

This Week in Words – Feb. 10

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

I’m sure you’re all very sick of me at this point. I see you there, picketing outside my window.

Where is the content, you demand.

Good news! It’s coming soon. We’re deliberating with sweat-beaded brows and will have brand new contributor content for you asap, I promise. We love you for hanging in there. Keep doing that.

In the meantime: Valentine’s Day!

(Sidebar: I tried looking for great pieces about Valentine’s Day to share with you. Inexplicably, however, it seems it’s too early for the cheeky stuff. So everything I’m about to share for the haters is super old.)

Here are some things for people who love V-Day.

Here are some (admittedly funnier) things for people who don’t.

Have at it, chickens.

xoxo,

Rachel

This Week in Words — February 4

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

I’m not a joiner, y’all. But I love to read books, and I love to talk about books with people who also love books. So I’ve conscripted my friends into an annual book reading. That seems spare, I know, but what can I say? Life happens. This year we’re reading Lolita. Yes, yes, I hear you: How have you never read Lolita?

Better late than never.

Punxsutawny Phil declared six more weeks of winter, surprising no one. I couldn’t find anything particularly funny regarding Groundhog Day from this year, so here’s last year’s cartoon from The New Yorker. Still relevant, if you ask me.

How do you organize your books?

I have a three-tiered shelf in the hallway outside my bedroom that holds my criticisms, autobiography/memoir, academic, and poetry collections, along with some YA overflow. In my room, the nightstands are as loaded down as possible with stacks of books, while still being (barely) functional as tabletops. There are also three shelves above my beds with my signed copies and collector’s editions. But the one way all of these books aren’t organized?

Spines inward. I mean, what kind of monster do you have to be?

This Week in Words — January 27

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

Lock your doors and windows, everybody. This week we’re talking about my favorite secret obsession: crime.

Fun fact: I was a criminology major before I was a lit major. So perhaps my obsession with crime is not so secret as I like to pretend.

In any case, I’ve been (possibly unhealthily) immersed in my new favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder for the last week. How have I only just discovered this magical gem of all things delightfully morbid?? The plus side of being late to the game is that I have literal years of episodes to binge. Join me on this deadly adventure, won’t you?

Everyone’s heard of the Black Dahlia, but there are several other true crime stories on this list that I hadn’t heard before. Also, you learn other fun things, like one Mr. Adolph Coors was allergic to beer.

Not to leave any medium out, there are a lot of true crime shows on the streaming services. I won’t say there are too many–can there ever be too many?–but there’s no shortage. Here’s a list of several on Netflix (full disclosure: this is from last fall, so if any of these are no longer available, please send all complaints to Netflix). The only one I’ve seen personally is The Keepers, which I can confidently say was dark and depressing and super compelling. (Sorry I haven’t watched Making a Murderer yet. I’m getting to it, I swear.)

Honorable mention to Autopsy on HBO. I promise it’s not about performing autopsies, except in the context of how crimes can be solved by doing so.

Lastly, I’m including this review of Denis Johnson’s previously mentioned collection just released…literally, just because the title of the review has the word “death” in it.

Got a favorite podcast/series/documentary/book about crime, true or otherwise? Please, for the love of all things that go bump in the night, share them with me. I cannot get enough.

This Week in Words — January 20

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

When I sat down to write this new (surely long-awaited) installment of TWIW, I spent an embarrassingly long time debating whether to make a fuss over the return of Treehouse. But, alas, no words came. Instead, what arose in my mind every time I tried to start this piece was the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter.

Just…”Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back,” with the emphasis on a different syllable every repetition.

So. Thus, I begin.

With the turn of a new year comes, inevitably, a new assortment of reading (and—behold: writing!) challenges. In 2017, I entered an arbitrary number into my Goodreads Reading Challenge: 52. Not so arbitrary, it turns out. I failed.

Ehhh, sort of. I have a habit of rereading much beloved series that I own, and I didn’t count those. So probably I blew through that 52-count finish line, but I did it by cheating.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. I own a lot of books. And almost 40 of them, I’ve never read (see: previously mentioned rereading habit). So my 2018 reading challenge is to read as many of those books as possible. Take my idea, if you want. Seems a pretty obvious challenge, I admit, but feel free to name it after me anyway.

Speaking of books to read, this month is a pretty solid one for new releases. Quite appropriately, a collection of previously unpublished Denis Johnson stories, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, was released this week. Nearly six years ago, just after Treehouse launched (the first time), we featured a retrospective of Jesus’ Son. Nice of his work to make a reappearance just as we do. (Bonus: You can read the titular story of the new release here.)

(As an aside, I’m also stoked to read Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.)

I’ve recently made the rather daunting—and more than a little reckless—switch from Person Who Writes to Professional Freelance Writer. As encouragement, a friend gifted me a book of collected blog posts from John Scalzi’s aptly titled blog, Whatever. The book, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop, features a few handfuls of posts about the professional writing life. Some of it is advice. A lot of it is funny. All of it is useful. One would think you can find the same posts on his blog, but (speaking as someone who didn’t pay for the book) I do enjoy having the highlights handed to me in a tidy little bundle.

And, finally…please enjoy this shameless self-serving shout-out:

Treehouse’s current Brief Encounters theme is, without irony, “New Beginnings.” We’ve raised the curtain unto our own new beginning; now tell us about yours. Born again? New job? Recently awakened as a human-sized cockroach? We want to hear your story. Give it here.