The Tree Spiking Technique
by Dylan Smith, 3.49am March 10th 2022

The professor I fell for after dropping out of school had a doctorate degree in death. For their privacy, I’ve changed their name to Dr. Ivy. We were introduced by the couple I rented my attic room from; Josh & Daniel both had jobs & took online music lessons. Daniel played piano—but Josh was always whistling. I could hear them through the floorboards of my attic room practicing every “practical” evening. They weren’t very serious about expressing themselves, though—not really. Not like me. Music was just a thing they did; a human thing like tractors, or learning how to bird. I did what I did. A tree leaned against their house. I stood in my attic room listening. I studied Russian novels. I stood, thinking, "Maybe I might write a novel—the next revolutionary novel, written from my American attic room.” I studied Josh & his theatrics. I thought critically about property, & about poetry, & I studied the “tree spiking” technique. Ivy lived in the city—in an attic room above the navy yard. They would visit on the weekends with their blue pills & their boat parts. They whispered, “There’s a whole shipwreck’s worth of boat parts buried behind my building.” Ivy loved botany, & vodka, & they unrusted their boat parts using potent vinegars. Ivy radicalized me. Inside them somewhere hung the whole haunted history of books. In my attic room window, this lean old man canoed through every “moving” morning. His name was Dmitri, we imagined—or Tree for short. A red spruce was sort of forcing its frictions against the stained cedar siding of that house. I cut pictures of pirogues out from the pages of Ivy’s history books. I tied thin, black ribbons around the trees I spiked for Ivy. Ivy never worried. Once though—during one of Josh & Daniel’s endless, devilish evening dirges—Tree came tumbling out of the woodwork waving from on top of that terrible black tractor. The rust—all of Ivy’s passive, red rust—it just spilt out everywhere. I did what I did. Ivy hated the guy, is what I mean. Just like me—Ivy hated all of it!