Look at my arms. They are scaling and falling to pieces. Shards of bark fall like my autumn leaves, multicolored and fading. Look at the veins in my leaves. How brittle they are. Once these hands ran through your hair, and now I no longer have hands. I am incomplete.
Once we knew love. Once we knew each other. Once we touched and came together.
Now we are no longer what we were.
I look at you: A rotting stump. Crickets hide inside you and sing.
I stand still. The air is stagnant. I soak in the sun. I soak in the rain. I stand unmoving.
My arms are branches.
You don’t even have that luxury. You can no longer reach up to the sky. You are there, in the ground, rotting. Salamanders call you home.
Birds make their nests on my arms. I hold them tight and protect them from storms. I watch the young birds leap from their nests. Some take flight while others fall.
At my feet lie the bones of broken birds. They no longer sing. Yet, they still serve their purpose as food for ants and maggots. These things are necessary, too, no matter how unpleasant they might be.
You are necessary. You feed the earth. You feed termites.
I stand above and shelter you in my shade. I remember you as you were, as you used to be. When we touched and merged as figures of warm flesh and love. I remember the afterglow. I remember your green shoots and flowers.
I’m sorry I cut you down.
But now I am old and the termites infest me. I feel them crawl past my bark and into the deepest of my many rings. Each ring is a year of life, and there are so many years. How many was it before I cut you down? I can’t remember. Not that it matters. You sit there and rot, and I will join you soon. I know this to be true. The sun will be hidden from me as the other trees surround us and hide us in their shade.
Kudzu moves in, and mistletoe steals the rain from my soul.
I am so thirsty. My roots are nibbled by moles and rabbits. My tangled wooden subterranean knots are now the home of a nasty family of gnomes.
The sky cries for me, but the tears offer no relief. I am drying from the inside.
I am just like you.
Once we were more than trees. You were more than a stump. You were everything.
Now I stand alone.
My last leaf has fallen, and the sound of termites crunching wood overwhelms my senses. I feel myself crack and break, little by little.
Lightning flashes, and I thank God for fire.