Lost Children Archive: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli:
The speed limit on the roads across the Appalachians is 25 miles per hour, which irritates my husband but which I find ideal. Even at this speed, though, it took me a few hours to notice that the trees along the mountain path are covered in kudzu. We had passed acres of woodland blanketed in it on our way up toward this high valley, but only now do we see it clearly. My husband explains to the children that kudzu was brought over from Japan in the nineteenth century, and that farmers were paid by the hour to plant it on harvested soil, in order to control erosion. They went overboard, though, and eventually the kudzu spread across the fields, crept up the mountains, and climbed up all the trees. It blocks the sunlight and sucks out all the water from them. The trees have no defense mechanism. From the higher parts of the mountain road, the sight is terrifying: like cancerous marks, patches of yellowing treetops freckle the forests of Virginia.
All those trees will die, asphyxiated, sucked dry by this bloody rootless creeper, my husband tells us, slowing down as we hit a curve.
But so will you, Pa, and all of us, and everyone else, the boy says.