MIXED-METHODS EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF ACER
By Renée M. Sgroi
This paper seeks to investigate. As a tree, a log, as so much bark, sawdust. Dyes and additives. Colours and glue. Characters and looped letters. To learn how to adhere to the sides of other pages.
This study originated with the unanticipated discovery of a fragment of speech buried deep within a recently deceased and ancient acer saccharum. Notified by local lumberjacks or also bark harvesters, the principal investigators (PIs) rushed to the site to capture said fragment before dissipation (fragment reproduced in its roughest translation below). As a result of this unexpected quarry, PIs assembled a team to examine the range of possible utterances.
Once, I was a seedling, and I fell. A beautiful fall, though it was spring. Few observe where a seedling lands. I was cracked and therefore open. Such is the art of germination. First there is a sapling, then a tree. A process depends on so much light and a little rain. To become tree means to offer life: insects, birds, squirrels, raccoons. Oxygen.
Falling is an element like carbon.
“To make paper from trees, the raw wood has to be turned into pulp. This pulp is made up of wood fibers and chemicals that are mixed together. They can either be processed mechanically or chemically. With mechanical pulping, machines grind wood chips into pulp. The fibers are ground down more in this process, so the paper that is made is not as strong. This kind of paper is commonly used for newsprint and phone books.”1
For the purposes of our research, we consulted with two differentiated manufacturers of coloured paper. Said manufacturers also produce glues and other adhesives. We consulted with a grove of trees. Their response was, needless to say, wooden.
“The second, and more commonly used, method is chemical pulping. Chemical pulping creates stronger paper, since this method eliminates most of the natural glue-like substance in the pulp.”2
Removing glue, and later adding it. To stack pages together, to adhere to walls. To render the world of human ideas visible, intransient. To be ringed into binders, coils, duo-tangs, cerlox, loose-leafed in thin plastic shrink-wrap. To sit in blocks on kitchen counters. To be wrapped in more paper and put through a machine called printer. But first to become pulp. To be mashed, drained of life-bearing water. Drowned, the water in your veins replaced by chemicals.
“Once the paper has about 50 percent of its water removed, it is heated to dry to between 5 and 8 percent water content. At this point, the paper may go through treatments to create different textures. It is then wound into a reel. These reels of paper are so large that large cranes have to be used to move them.”3
Dry -ing. s…….s……s……
The PIs conducted numerous experiments in forests of acer saccharum using recording devices capable of capturing high and low frequencies (beyond the range of human hearing), and the thinnest of whispers. Samples and measurements on the health and viability of subjects for this study (excluding rings counted) were acquired. Experiments included phrases spoken in multiple languages by linguist team members at a variety of pitches and decibels to ascertain subject response. Forest bathing was avoided, as the researchers concluded this practice would not be conducive to interspecies communication on the basis of the absence of utterances.
Captured on closed-circuit television. Here, the song of a dying leaf:
x o ox y s s
y ox s i i
x o. o
Our research findings have uncovered whole libraries of paper. Bound as books between leather covers, although often pressboard or thickened sheets of paper and shelved in alpha-numeric systems as archive, repository. As devices, to be opened or closed at will, at the discretion, desire of the human hands for which they were produced, for which they fit neatly into.
It is worth remarking that while libraries are not portable, individual units are. The PIs collected several volumes as specimens, and are studying them further in the lab. A separate paper is soon to be published on their conclusions. What follows outlines key preliminary data from their findings:
Some books have markings, in pencil, coloured pencil, even pen. Torn off covers. Folded
edges replete with strips of coloured paper. Chewed or inflexible spines. Pages that are
wont to escape from bindings as autumn leaves from a tree.
Trees imbibe words, weather, beverage stains. Literary canons or possibly integers. Banish the defecated. Bleed anapests or dactyls. Manifestos as reason or unreason. Drink in wax crayons, watercolours, remains of lunch or groceries. Parking tickets. Build boats, docks, bridges, skeletons of houses. Play board games, baseball, cricket, croquet. Invite recipes, birthdays, late slips. Turn backs of sympathy notes or envelopes with numbers. Embody fences, shade avenues. Tree products, paper products. Produced, producing, productive. Pulp. Sawdust. Tissues and the 3-ply salt-heat of tears. Lignans made manifest. Or something called human. Intelligence.
chop buzz rrrwwww whirr grind
sweep mash churn churn vlet
glong stretch vlak wrap shake
dry rattle snap truck stack
throw chunk blonk balump rattle
stain wipe soak bleed hang
crumple cold stink fold mash
Both arborists and linguists maintain a poor and limited prognosis on interspecies communication based on research findings.
1 “How Paper is Made from a Tree” (n.d.), available at: https://www.treeremoval.com/how-paper-is-made-from-a-tree/
2 “How Paper is Made from a Tree” (n.d.), available at: https://www.treeremoval.com/how-paper-is-made-from-a-tree/
3 “How Paper is Made from a Tree” (n.d.), available at: https://www.treeremoval.com/how-paper-is-made-from-a-tree/
a day is as long as
By Renée M. Sgroi
the length of a day, any day, before a dies irae, before a long day, today,
another day, as wide as a ten-centimetre wingspan, open, monarch butterfly mid-flight, oyamel
firs that wait as if opening arms, offering warm air deposits
or is a day as long as a length of days, dies irae, day of the dead, any day
death has a day, is a day, sounds wide as a wingspan, a monarch opens, mid-flight, an oyamel fir
awaits, as an oriole waits
open mouthed, butterflies receive warm air deposits a kilometre above the
ground is not too far to fly, a column, a corridor, a grosbeak or an oriole on a day of death,
is as a day as long as a corridor, a column, monarch wingspans colouring a
forest of firs, oyamel, a butterfly is a death is a wingspan up to ten centimetres on a day as death
is a dies irae
a day of wrath is a day of the dead is an oyamel, fir dead is a flight, a path
a corridor of wingspans, collection of warm air deposits or column of centimetres colouring of
oriole is as grosbeak is
death is a flight path, today, any day, another day is a deposit as oriole or
a monarch butterfly is a flight path is a wingspan is a corridor a kilometre
above the ground is a dead relative who returns on the day of the dead, butterflies as collections
as days before death before dies irae
swallowing, is a day a wingspan, is an open mouth mid-flight, warm air
deposit, monarch is a death is a bird in flight, dies irae is a grosbeak is an oriole is as an oyamel
fir waits, open arms
is a day of death, today, any day is as long as a mid-flight wingspan, is as
short as ten centimetres, is the length of a kilometre above oyamel firs, is a breath of warm air
stopped in the act of swallowing is
Renée M. Sgroi’s poetry has appeared in The Windsor Review, The Prairie Journal, The Beliveau Review, The Banister, The Wild Word (Germany) and Lummox (U.S.). A runner-up in the UK’s 2020 erbacce poetry prize, her debut poetry collection, life print, in points (Liverpool: erbacce-press) was published last year. Renée also edited the anthology, Written Tenfold (Toronto: Poetry Friendly Press). An avid espresso coffee drinker, Renée is the past president of the Brooklin Poetry Society, and recently joined the executive of the Canadian Authors Association – Toronto branch. You can find her online at: https://reneemsgroi.com