Euonymus by David Appelbaum


Euonymus is a fragmentary story of rebirth. It focuses on the narrator’s struggles for survival, physical and spiritual, during an unforgiving winter. Although his identity remains vague, the dialogue he has with his God shows him to be stubborn and resilient in the face of ongoing hardship. His two children make cameo appearances, usually at odds with his desires.

Euonymus is also a theophany, a work designed to evoke or invoke the appearance of God. In the form of a conversation with an unnamed divinity, the narrator alternatively pleas, demands, questions, laments, or prays for an understanding of what is required of him. The author’s use of an ambiguous first person pronoun ‘I’ makes it difficult to know always whether the narrator is speaking to or being addressed by the other.

His world and its creatures share in the conversation. Plants, trees, resident animals each take part, giving a panoramic view of his situation. At the center of the meditation is euonymus—the common spindle tree, on the wood of which, according to lore, Christ was crucified.

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