There is a little boy I hang with who has trouble getting to sleep. He is five.

I used to plant a garden on his back; my mother did it for me when my shoulder blades were so small like these little wings. Run fingernails down, digging rows, planting surprises. Slip him down into a dream. Used to be that easy but he got bored. This is what he requires these days:

Do trees this time, he says. Ok I will do trees.

First we have pine tree. Pine tree is tall with a narrow trunk. I trace his spine all the way down. Pine tree has long needles that stick out every which way. I trace long light tracks out from his spine. It has birds living in a nest in it, right here, and they have two eggs in the nest, circle circle, and here are the baby birds when they hatch, here is how they will fly around the top of the pine tree. Where I have used my fingernails I can see his bare back slowly gaining slight pink spider lines.

Christmas tree is like a triangle, like this. With blue lights, all blue this year. Going up around it in a swirl. We will turn out the lights and look at all the blue stars living in the tree. Popsicle Stick Angel on top, she is always on top. With presents under it, here are the presents. Square square square square.

Then we have oak tree. Oak tree is very climbey. My fingertips do many low branches which tangle up in each other. You could jump up from the ground and grab a branch, Shaymus. You could pull yourself up and it would be easy to get way up, if you wanted to go all the way to the very top, you could. You're strong, you could make it. From the top you can look down on the house and it is so ittybitty it will mean you are a giant up at the top of your giant tree.

If this does not do the trick I must open my warehouse of imaginary botanicals. He forces himself to stay awake this long (by now we are dripping steady into sleep) because this is where the good stuff is. We have got candybushes we have got beartrees. Sweet heavy purple pears and the Invisible Willow who is so sad she can never leave the river.

I will keep going until the end, which is not necessarily when he is asleep. It is rarely then. I will keep my voice low. I have got trees to discover. I will keep my hands gentle, barely touching skin, guiding, I hope, a few good green dreams.

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