Just a Tree

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 11:14 -- awhaley

Just a Tree


When the first fingers of light start to summon back earth’s vibrant greens,

You and He both stir.


I hear you prick through your brittle shell

and the sound is a thistle prickling cellophane.

It echoes effortlessly through the silent air,

a thousand thistles

       prickling the morning hello,

                prickling through open windows,

           prickling his roused ears. 


But He only hears the prickle of the beard He scratches,

the crackle of the scabby eyes He rubs. 


I hear the crumbs of soil like beetles being startled awake

hastily scrambling and shuffling

     to make space for you.

They coax your delicate shoot up the tunnel

out of the dark

           towards life.


But He only hears the scramble

of heavy footsteps down stairs,

only hears the shuffle

of coffee grinds

that coax him out of sleep.


I hear your confusion like punching heartbeats as you reach the surface  

overwhelmed with an onslaught of instinct,

you begin toiling with all your might to grow the beginnings of

your first dew drop leaf.

Furiously guzzling water,

Frantically gulping sunbeams

in a rhythmic frenzy

that I can hear.

guzzle, gulp, grow

guzzle, gulp, grow

Surely he can, too?


But he is busy

guzzling down his orange juice

gulping up his flabby eggs

 and the clatter of cup and plate

cuts through your commotion like

cannon fire through cotton uniforms.   


I hear the creak of growth leak from your tendons

An old dock’s warning of an impending storm. 

I hear the grunts of every sinew, cord, and strand

as they are tugged and stretched to compensate for

a new branch there,

added length here.

The grunts soar and resonate,

like the muffled, throaty complaints of marathoners

that can be heard

miles before the finish line.


But He has his own muscles to stretch,

his own knuckles to pop

            and even then, maybe, He could have heard

if He had shown any restraint in the mighty roar He let escape his lips

            a whimper of leathering skin, of rigid back, of lengthening bathroom visits.


He did not hear.


I hear the clapping of your many leaves;

padded hands,

An auditorium of gentle applause. 


But it is drowned out by the clap of worker’s helmet,

the snap of buckles on boots.


I hear your panicked plea—the wind’s commiseration—

It rushes through your crevices,

into your rivulets of bark,

flapping your leaves,

convulsing your branches,

to create one shrieking howl of desperation.


But it does not quite pierce

the shriek of the engine

as it chokes into a steady rumble.


I hear your fiery capitulation

as you will every branch, every twig, every hair-thin fiber in your trunk

to snap

all at once.

It reverberates over the hills,

rippling every pool of water,

wrenching the hair from every neck nearby,

a clap of spine-chilling thunder,

a crack of a whip from the heavens,

halting all noise

mid chirp

mid croak

mid sneeze,



mid engine rumble.


He has finally heard.

For a moment,

his ears prick up

his salt eyes soften

his jaw line retreats

his lips part and form a slippery O

“Oh”, He whispers, loud enough for only you and He to hear.

For a moment, 

as you lay sprawled, a macerated scarecrow,

you think He understands.


“Oh”, He grumbles again. 

“Oh”, this time with more resolve.

“It’s just a tree.”

He restarts the engine.


And the Bulldozer roars back


to life.  


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