Requiem for Old Man Pine

I plant little trees. My neighbours cut big ones down.

I am standing in my kitchen, cutting peaches and plums into jars. The peaches are golden, derrières. The plums are black bleeding hearts.

It is just right — sweet, and saucy — and it pleases me. Tomorrow, I am somewhere else, where I will not know myself, but today was mine. I said not a word to a soul. There were lots of them though, in my head. They ran through it, fluent, like water. It was a breathless, sultry day, after rain in the night. I am simply, quietly happy.

Outside stands an ancient pine, bent, as old men are, by a lifetime’s weather. Creatures live there, and creatures visit. He has been living under the axe. I plant little trees. My neighbours cut big ones down. “It goes like this, in the wind,” she said, referring to the pine, and shifting, fractionally. I said nothing. I felt that my face said it all. We live, side by side, in mutual incomprehension. They are speedway fans. I potter, grubby-fingered, in the shade, coaxing good eating from the soil, trying to get shelter to grow, and just to let things be.

I know that today is the day. I can hear the chainsaw, revving and farting next door. I can see a ladder.

The tree cracks, the ground shakes. It feels like an act of God, but it is not. One old limb, then another, crashes down. It was the work of a hundred years, this is the work of minutes. It was the past, and the future, too. The monkeys gibber and cheer. The light in my kitchen changes. An afternoon, two idiots, and history is gone.

Sunday, February 13, 2011