Three Letters to Camelia

Carine Doumit | June 2021
Part of At the Edge of the Forest, a Garden
النسخة العربية للنص

She received three letters, a few days apart – or was it a few years?

First Letter

Dear Camelia,

We entered the forest at night, and the night of the forest startled me. Despite my fear, my eyes drew a horizontal line, in a movement resembling what is called a panoramic view in cinema. The movement was stammering at first, then my body and gaze synched up in a continuous flux, and I drew a circle around the space I was standing in. Through this circular gesture, I wanted to consecrate the moment I entered the forest, to draw a mosaic of its shades and shapes. Then, my eye got caught by a trunk divided into four or five branches; it resembled the arms of an octopus sliding under the ground from all directions. I followed one of the roots as it disappeared into the soil of the forest. Yet I continued to chase it underneath the surface of the earth until sleep caught up with me and I fell into it. In my sleep – or is it in the early moment of awakening? – I saw the end of the roots as if they had finally found their way out into the visible world. They were emerging from a hill, naked in thin air. At that moment, it was not the earth that carried the tree but the tree that held the hill together. The hill is in fact a large rock which cradles like powder. The tree keeps the soil together and it seems that as the roots mend the hill, the whole world mends as well. Later, we took another path, not knowing if it led to the forest or if it was a way back from it. The path was never-ending and the night fell on us once again, as fear took over me. As I write this, my memory fails me and I am certain that other details are slipping. 

Second Letter

Dear Camelia,

On our third day in the forest, we reached a conglomerate of rocks, a conglomerate of small mountains. It is most certainly the entrance of the forest, or at least a good starting point for the day. I could see gigantic cedar trees with trunks so huge they appeared to be distorted. One of them was split into three parts, three Siamese sisters. Some trees resembled the larva of a volcano, a dark brown blood-like liquid – was it the blood of the Siamese sisters? The ground was covered with grass and small plants. A beautiful light fell on everything that surrounded us. Then, the light changed in a split second, transforming the space, and transporting us to a place we had never seen before. Something beautiful, mysterious and unknown was calling on us to turn around in circles like dancing dervishes. It was calling on me to draw the shape of a spiral resembling the ones I saw in the sliced-up trunks. I drew it on the ground, only to notice the moment after that I had drawn a dark hole. 

Third Letter

Dearest Camelia,

Here I am in the middle of the forest again, spiraling around in endless circles, transforming the trees before me into a large and magnificent aquarelle painting. The trees are bleeding, as if by turning I have penetrated their very pores. I then reach what looks like a jungle; lizards and wild birds pour down on me like tropical rain.