The Memory Of A Tree

This is a FWF prompt from Kellie Elmore at http://kellieelmore.com/2012/06/01/fwf-free-write-friday-when-you-find-me/

 

I am a tree.

My roots delve deeply into the mountain soil, suckling the sweet water of hidden springs.

This body bears 750 rings of age, but I hold that as my secret. You will never know unless you murder me. Like holding a butterfly to examine it’s beauty, now a fleeting one once you have touched delicate wings with oily fingers. Bringing death to the exquisite being you had been admiring, in the act of appreciating it’s life.

These arms reach out to embrace the sky, I am the bridge between heaven and earth. Rustling and dancing to the tunes of wind, I will whisper to you wisdom if your mind is quiet enough. I will shade you from the sun, shelter you from rain, and breathe life into your lungs as I sip on the breeze.

I am a Mother of the forest, hosting birds and insects, squirrels and grubs. Even my death shall nourish, as my fallen body mothers still the plants that will grow upon me, the worms that will devour me, and I will become the nursery of the wood. This is the way of things, this is my place.

I represent the passage from this world, the stairway to God… And the depths of soul, the heights of spirit.

Come sit at my feet child, find the silence of peace, the music of nature. Wrap your warm little body around mine, and feel the life that flows inside of me, as it flows inside of you. Know that I too have my place in this world, that I too am a person.

That I have a soul no different from yours.

 

 

I came home from school on a Tuesday afternoon, to hear the sound of a chainsaw. It was a sound I heard every day for three years, not much of a surprise. I barely registered it in fact, the obnoxious noise had become a part of my days, the evil smell of fuel mixing with the sweet scent of pine chips and cedar. It was my way of life. Hands roughened by labor were always sticky with sap, scratches burning when soap and water infrequently found them. Slivers worked their way beneath my clothing and even appeared in my underwear. Heaving rounds of wood from the brush, splitting and stacking, burning the stump under a pile of branches, roasting a hot dog if I was lucky.

So this day seemed no different than many that had come before it. I divested myself of my back pack with the duct-taped patches, changed out of my “good” clothes and into my work jeans, slipped on the gloves that smelled of sweat and bar oil, and snagged a piece of bread to munch on as I made my way to the west end of the property. Following the sound of the chainsaw, it was like the world’s largest fly that you could not swat away.

I came around the bend in the road into the midst of a massacre. I froze. I could not breathe. My hands began to shake and my stomach flipped over. My mouth went dry and my throat closed in the grip of horror. I sat down with a plop, getting prodded by gravel and I barely noticed.

The tree… The tree…

Countless trees has fallen to the unmerciful blade of my father’s saw- And mine. Stacks of alder, hemlock, cedar, pine, cottonwood and spruce were filed away neatly in the shed like paperwork. I had wheel-barrowed countless loads up muddy hills and down rocky trails, without thought…. But not this tree. Never this tree.

It had held me while I cried, played with me while I clamored, accepted my offerings of apples, wore the jewelery of pine cone wind chimes that I had made, sheltered me from the rain, the snow, the scorching sun. It’s drooping boughs had hid me from the prying eyes of others, it had been my favorite hiding spot for four years, had been my mother, my sister, my saving grace.

It was severed and shattered, having carved a gnarly scar on the foliage surrounding it upon it’s epic fall from grace. It lay mangled and broken, no semblance of it’s beauty remained, and there was my father, obliviously sawing the appendages from my benefactor as he chewed on a twig. Actually CHEWING on a piece of her, the monster. I wanted to cut him in half with his own saw and stack him up in the woodshed.

I sat there shaking with rage, fighting my tears, glaring hatred at his back as he calmly destroyed that small piece of my happiness. I forced myself to watch the insatiable saw chewing into the pure flesh of the trunk, forced myself to witness the atrocity of this act done so blithely.

“She is still alive.” I thought to myself with horror. “She can feel that saw, every bite of it.”

I could not restrain my tears, they flowed like a river swollen from Spring rains. I cried and shook until the awful screaming of the engine had stopped and my father dusted off. As I watched the saw dust fall away from his clothing I thought that he should be covered in blood. That it was the height of evil that he could give himself a little shake and the foul remains of his deed would fall away.

“What the hell are you crying about?” He asked me, as I shot looks so black the stars were coming out.

“Nothing.” I spat the word.

Shrugging his shoulders he began walking back to the house, where he would sit down with a beer and feel satisfaction with himself. “You know what shed to put this in, save those two rounds over there for kindling. I’ll have your brother do that when he gets home, just take care of these.” And he left.

Take care of them? I thought. I had tried to take care of them but I wasn’t there. There was no “taking care” of a dead body there was only the disposal of it. I sat for a long time just looking at it, mourning, feeling betrayed and wounded. I thought of the hundreds of years that tree had stood there. Through snow and sunshine, year after year, watching the passage of deer, rabbit, mice, cougar, bear, skunk, grouse, and little girls. I thought of how many times a tired hawk had rested his wings in the boughs. How many birds had cycled through nests, raising their young.

Hundreds of years, and in 30 minutes all was reduced to nothing but fire wood.

I crept forward and softly stroked the bleeding stump that remained. “I’m sorry.” I told her, and I had never meant that phrase more in my life. Had never said it with so much sorrow. One by one I counted the rings. 750. How insignificant my small life was, and how grossly unfair that such a wonderous creature would have to die for me.

I hauled the “wood” away, but I did not burn the stump. Instead I made an altar on it, commemorating the fallen. I planted another small tree right next to it, hoping that in 750 years it would not be shoved in a fire place.

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3 thoughts on “The Memory Of A Tree

  1. “I came around the bend in the road into the midst of a massacre. I froze. I could not breathe. My hands began to shake and my stomach flipped over. My mouth went dry and my throat closed in the grip of horror. I sat down with a plop, getting prodded by gravel and I barely noticed.

    The tree… The tree…

    Countless trees has fallen to the unmerciful blade of my father’s saw- And mine. Stacks of alder, hemlock, cedar, pine, cottonwood and spruce were filed away neatly in the shed like paperwork. I had wheel-barrowed countless loads up muddy hills and down rocky trails, without thought…. But not this tree. Never this tree.

    It had held me while I cried, played with me while I clamored, accepted my offerings of apples, wore the jewelery of pine cone wind chimes that I had made, sheltered me from the rain, the snow, the scorching sun. It’s drooping boughs had hid me from the prying eyes of others, it had been my favorite hiding spot for four years, had been my mother, my sister, my saving grace.”

    You!!! Now, I hate you! lol! This is just superb penning! SO gripping and it doesn’t “tug” at my heart it, RIPS IT OUT! You always keep me embraced in your words, clinging and begging for more at the end. Why are you not writing novels, Kelley!?!?! WOW!

    I posted a thank you on my blog to everyone who wrote for this one but, let me tell you personally that I thank you and it means so much that you took time out to do this difficult and different prompt of mine. Your loyalty to my FWF touches my heart so much and I am so thankful to you, Kelley. I cannot thank you enough for your participation. BIG BEAR HUG!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  2. awww, i’ve been away from the computer for a while and just had a bad conversation with someone i once thought of as my best friend, and you’re comment made me smile. thank you so much Kellie. thank you.

    Maybe someday i can write novels, but- um- my living situation is… rural.. i have no access to computers regularly, and i tried to write it in a notebook but got too overwhelmed.

    thank you so much Kellie, you are an inspiration 🙂
    BIG hugs back (((XOXOX)))

    Like

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