Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bone Into Branch

 photo montage by aleXander hirka      click on image to enlarge 

BONE INTO BRANCH ~ by T. Remington

     Tangled and crossed and running into each other, my limbs disobey my brain and even in there twigs strain to reach each other and throw defiant sparks across the stubborn gaps. I know this stuff; I invented this stuff. Why can’t I remember? It’s right here, right on the tip of my…..leaf?
      My root system has gotten shallow and the wind tonight, it’s strong. I flex and grip and hang on. I’ve made it through worse nights. So had you. But where are you now? I sweep the bare ground next to me with low slung branches that chatter and shake. Another gust slams into my mass. Is that rain? Snow maybe? I never feel the cold, just the aloneness. The wind had less purchase on my foliage when you stood next to me.

      From seedlings on, there we were, stuck and together. Others sprouted, rose, throve, shot towards the sky and, one by one, they were cut away, withered by disease, pissed on by one too many dogs, chewed by deer and then there we were. You and I. Mighty, soaring and impervious. Or so we thought. Remember how we’d laugh on nights like this?

      Here she is again; why she only comes out on the wild nights is a mystery. She’s been coming out here for a very long time, for her kind anyway it’s a long time. Years. She always comes alone. I might be attributing thoughts, insight to her that she’s incapable of, but I like to think that she misses you, too.

      Her warm little presence under there is comforting. She can’t protect me. She didn’t protect you. Still, tonight I’m glad she’s here.

      She feels for her key, but can’t imagine why it matters. It isn’t like she’s going back. There’s nothing to go back to. The emptiness of the house is almost violent. All those years of running up and down those stairs, fetching this and carrying that, wiping another snotty little nose and soothing another fretting little soul.

      Others who grew up around here fled as soon as they could and why not? There’s nothing here. But with her first pregnancy, her roots were sunk. She wasn’t going anywhere. There was always someone needing taken care of. At first it was good to have her mother’s help, but then her mother needed mothering, too. Daddy died and that actually made things a little easier in some ways.

      There was a patch in there when things were good. Right? She eased right on down the well trod path of checking the past for clues of happiness, of contentment. Her husband had once smiled when he saw her. But with each child, his misery and resentment grew, seeking comfort roughly in her flesh begetting yet more of his own special brand of hell. More mouths to feed. There was a time when they both cursed their plentitude.

      No more. All were gone. First off, he just left. Just didn’t come home from work one night and that was it. Then the horrors began. Accidents, illness, layoffs and finally the State stepping in and scooping away the last three confused little kids.

      It’s cold enough out here. Ridiculously, she pulls her coat tight around her as she huddles in down at the base of the trunk of the remaining oak. She leans against the hard trunk and tells death to get it over with; she’s had it. Right. Nothing will ever be that easy, not even dying.

      She steadies herself and is surprised that the bark is warm, giving. The sighs above her vibrate with a kindness that can’t just be the wind. She reaches up and grasps a hand; yes it is a hand. Around her, branches coalesce into arms and someone tall and strong and patient reaches down to prepare the ground.

      Eventually the authorities come out to claim the house, to bulldoze it and let the forest return. No one notices that there are two oaks out back again. This part of the county isn’t really up for development, too swampy and too far from the interstate. In time the strip malls and gas stations will encroach, but for now two shallow root systems are twined under the ground and the wind can only tug and howl. Ground and sky bracket two growing trees.