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time to look it in the eye. The photo never developed When I returned the lion cub it was with great relief—as if handing back a screaming baby. Not for me, I thought. Wild animals are not for me. Once, before I was a house or a tree, a ghost or a woman or even a girl, I lived in an old apartment in German Village, and my tortured imagination would throw books off a shelf up in the loft office. One of the books that repeatedly landed on the floor was The Tao of Pooh, a battered copy an ex-boyfriend gave me. Now my son toddles up to the bookshelf and casually knocks off Corduroy, The Cat in the Hat, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, Baby Beluga. This may explain something about ghosts. // Common wisdom dictates, if you want to know how fucked up someone is (or is not), make them draw a house, a tree, a person. This is called the House-Tree-Person Test. These three things, psychologists say, dictate the nature of our respective realities. How many rooms? How many branches? Is there a front porch, a back garden? Is this person smiling and wearing a triangle dress? Is this person gesturing hello or leave me alone? What kind of tree are we talking about here? And what kind of house? When a child draws a house she always draws a door, and when she draws a door she hardly ever draws a keyhole. Houses can wait forever. If a room is removed whole-cloth and rebuilt somewhere else, it’ll retain its primary impressions, what meals were taken in it by what people, which trees were used to make it. It’ll rise to the level of consciousness on the regular, float above a single-line meant to stand-in for earth, and what it loses in reality it’ll gain in metaphor. NONFICTION | 43


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