Alone, I have stood in this earth for many years. Life sparks and shoots around and within me as I stand. The sun sings to me of summer and my leaves rustle in reply. I am loved. I am young. I am hers and she is mine. She places me here as they guide her small hands, caressing me into life, her tiny reaching fingers stroking as she whispers to me of her bright life to come.
Underneath me she dances, small feet in the snow. Laughter and light scatter as she twirls in my shadow. They look on with lined eyes and tired smiles. The air tastes of ice and she hangs lights upon my boughs, crinkled balls in red and stars cut in gold. She throws snow in the air and catches it on her tongue.
The snow drops push forth, their young green heads opening to white, brave in their endeavours. They crowd my feet and sing of spring. Her head touches higher branches. Her arms grow long as I spread further. We stretch our arms out to each other, reaching for life. She is alone now, her face so much closer to me. She sprinkles their dust at my feet. I drink them in and she rests wet cheeks against my trunk. She whispers to me of their names and of how much they loved her. I want to wrap her in my branches. She is a pulsing energy, a constant vital hum. I feel my buds beginning to unfurl, rolling out to inhale her. She smells of honey. She turns away from me as he comes out to hold her. He is new. He strokes my bark, holding her as they stand underneath me.
My boughs are in bloom, I am heavy with blossom. Flowers surround me and I am clouded in white. Underneath me they bind their hands. They laugh and they sing. There are many here who sit and look up. They watch on as she binds her hand to his, and together they all explode in light. I taste the honey scent of her air and I reach out to give them shade. My petals fall on their heads, fluttering down like butterfly wings, streams of velvet snow. She runs her finger along my lowest branch as she cups her hand around her belly.
The heat wraps itself around me and the sun stays up till late. I stretch, I grow, I am taut with potential, my leaves abundant, my fruit grows heavy. Underneath me she dances, naked, swollen, free and beautiful. Her radiance is brighter than the midnight sun. I join in, caressing the air about her. I sing to her as I sway above her. The pulse of the earth moves through us both, her dance exudes life and light.
She comes to me again as the burnt orange sun travels deep into my bark, as the sun dips below the horizon but still its warmth breathes on. She carries her little one, small and wide eyed in her arms, and underneath me they dance. The little one reaches out a tiny fist and touches me. He too comes and he wraps them both in his embrace.
The sun is changing, I feel a difference in the heat as it starts to flow away. The wind picks up around me and blows into my sinuous arms the salt of the sea. I taste the chalky grain of the earth. I feel tired. I am heavy, laden with fruit. I cannot produce as I used to, but still my body creaks with its weight. They do not come to collect and it drops, rotten, to the ground. I am surrounded by the sweet smell of my own decay. She comes to me with tears on her cheeks, a small white box in her hands. He looks on from afar with the darkness of the night in his eyes. The stars are all extinguished. She turns to him and slowly he comes. Together they hold the box and they lay her dust beneath me. There is so little of her. I take her in, she will live on in me.
I am alone as I begin to shed. My leaves have begun to change their colours, a rusty golden light in my boughs, the colour of the sun setting in the sky. She doesn’t visit as much. He, barely ever. The heat has left but my leaves are dry. They drop, one after another, fluttering to their resting place where they enter the ground beneath me. An earthy smell, not the sweet summer smell of fruit but the smell of autumn, the smell of change. She sits in a chair, alone, quiet as the sky darkens. Her eyes shine like glass, reflecting the moon and the stars which stretch themselves across the bruised purple skies. The darkness lengthens and she goes away.
The air is cooling around my branches. Autumn's tendrils entwined with my roots. It rains and I drink, I am so thirsty. I feel a shrinking inside me, the life seeping from my roots back into the soil. My time to sleep approaches. I feel the weight of water as it drags my last few leaves from me, the vestige of my youth falling away. I taste the change in the rain. I am alone. I am washed clean.
The sky is an arch of ice. The ground a white sheet below. The sun rises late and is slow to sigh away the frost from the silver-cut grass. I creak in the lightest of winds. She comes. I feel her before I can see her. When she looks up at me she is tired. Her eyes are sinking, pools of storm-shrouded purple. She sits and watches me. All is quiet. My bark splinters and sheds.
I have fewer buds as the earth turns towards the sun. The snow drops race each other to thrust and burst, and wither. The sun stretches its cool reach along my body and I shiver down to my roots. No longer does she dance underneath me. Her face is lined, my blossom falls around her, fading onto the cloth around her head. White on white.
The sun creeps above the hedges which surround our little piece of earth. I feel a leaf spring forth, unfurling from my rest, spreading itself out to soak up the sun. The light grows, I uncurl, I can breathe. The warmth awakens me. The sun is here all day, it stays beyond her consciousness. She sits, she sleeps, her face turned up to my green canopy. I shield her from the light. Her head a cloth of gold and green, her skin like crinkled bark. I can taste the life that ebbs from us both. I no longer bear much fruit although I still feel a slow accumulating weight within.
My leaves turn golden. They turn and they curl. I long to cling to them, to feel them yet warm me, clothe me. I fear the coming decay.
Snow has returned after a long time. Together they hang some lights on me, their warmth brings me a little comfort. He leaves her to watch me, alone. She is so much smaller, her limbs brittle as mine too wither. His voice calls softly to her from within. She tries to rise, he comes to help her from her chair. She breathes, sighs, gathers herself with a final look to me before she disappears.
He sits on a stool on the grass beneath me, alone. It is cold and dark, the air and water has long since turned hard. Everything around me is covered in a cool white coat. The dustings of winter. He is looking up at me with ice in his eyes. She calls to him from inside and he pushes her out in a new chair. Wrapped in a large coat with a fire-red cloth around her head and around her neck threads of gold, she seems both too small and too large. She wipes a frosted droplet from her face and places her hand against me. I stand a little stronger. She looks at me and I wonder who she sees. Their spirits have long been silent. The stars are glimmering above us and he stares up, beyond me, to search the sky for something. She sighs. The last of the water freezes.
Something big has changed. I am cold, a cold such that I have never felt before. I feel the frost within my trunk, ice within my boughs.
How I long for my leaves. The cold has lasted forever, I no longer remember how it feels to be warm. I hear voices like the crying of the gulls above me. Everything is suffering. I am not blooming, nothing inside me feels alive.
He sits underneath me with his head in his hands.
She no longer comes. The stars seem duller, the earth a little emptier. Where does she dance now that she is gone? He no longer sits outside. He watches me from the window, his face clouded and dark. I am brittle and tired. I lean towards the house, longing to feel her warm touch upon me again, breathing in the memories she has left behind.
He will not look at me. At night he sits outside in a coat and smokes. He is alone, always alone. The fire illuminates his cheeks, his brow, a golden glow in contrast to the pale face of the moon. The cold is inside everything.
The sun barely wakes. I am naked and cold, the earth frozen so long beneath me. He comes to me with a darkness in his face, something long and glinting in his hand. The first blow tears through me, splitting me, breaking me. My boughs shudder and fall as one by one he tears them from my body, parting us with each violent blow. I scream but no one can hear me. His face is dark, tears stream down his cheeks. I did not know of this pain. I tear apart as he rips me limb from limb, pulling down my branches as they splinter. The final blows come, I taste the sweetness of my life as it leaves me, running from me into the earth where she lies. I stand no more. I lie on the ground, the frozen hard ground. He looks down upon me as I lie dying before him, a tear frozen on his cheek, his eyes cast in glass.
I drift into the soil where I will dance beyond this life. Perhaps she will find me there.