The Calloused Trees

Tree Root
The Calloused Trees

I saw a tall tree standing road-side on ‘Great King’ Street, rotten at the roots. The tree had quite the beard, and a glowering set of yellowed teeth protruding from what could have fit an owl—or as trees are often drawn in picture books.

I couldn’t quite tell you how such a tree developed such stature, such visibility, and such presence. It was essentially rotten. Not even the purest lovers would carve their name in such a wood. For it was filled—root, stem, and spine—with wood-rot and spindle worm. I could swear I saw a demonic eye, hidden beneath its peeling bark.

I doubt you could number the winters the tree had seen. In fact, it seemed particularly keen for another season of winter. It classified ‘evergreen’, but had a strict propensity for shaking its leaves into the wind. It was summer, and nothing but a single leaf had grown.

The tree caught my eye, probably because it seemed to be shouting right at me, waving its beer bottle arms in angry vengeance and greed for the free-walking life of this passing poet. The tree seemed somewhat desperate as it grabbed a trunk of wood, and flaunted its own belligerent failure.

“Show us your tits,” it said, with a snicker.

 There it sat night after night waving its spindly arms at the passing traffic, wilfully breathing in fumes, hoping for a death reprieve. That’s how it seemed to me. I inwardly took in breath, ready to defend myself from this sidewalk beast haunting in my direction—yet going nowhere.

“Lemme buy you a brown,” it rasped, to no response.

One might wish for some action, a chainsaw perhaps, or even an axe; however, as I stood a perfect 10 meters down the road in frozen contemplation, I knew it would take some man, some woman, to remove the problem. Even if the town council had met concerning the trees, it can’t have been very productive. For the trees litter the sidewalks north-to-south waving their grotesque limbs at the world.

As I felt my midnight footsteps fall into the rhythm of my wounded conscience.
I wept.
I wept for its rot.
I wept for its futility.
I wept for its bravado.
I wept for its settled shame.
I wept for grotesque diseases.
I wept at what could have been: The evergreen;
yet, forever locked in winter, flailing those limbs of silent miscommunication.

I forgave myself a smile and decided to hope that such creatures of the night might find respite. I flogged my calloused heart for wishing the wood-rot and stench would kill them all. And gave up the world of ‘blessed utopia’ where every branch is green, and every bush a berry.

God bless those tantrum trees caught in the city of fleas.
God Bless those hunchbacked evergreens destined for disease.

—–
© Iain Sutherland, 2013.
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