Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Speak for the Trees

photo credit: Justin Jackson
Today, tell the story of a tree. This one, or one of your choosing (home to a favorite tree house when you were a child, perhaps…or shade provider at your favorite park). What has it seen? Heard? Felt? What stories have unraveled at its very feet? Or, what’s its own story? Is it happy? Content? Ready for a change?
Let the breeze blow through your own limbs, write somethin’, and then make like a tree and “leave” it here. (Yep, there will be puns on Sundays.)


  1. Not sure why the title didn't post. It was:

    I Speak for the Trees.

    1. There's a separate box at the top for the title, De. I put it in there for you. = )

    2. Thanks, Laurie! I had provided one in that box for an earlier version, but perhaps by the final draft, had somehow deleted it. ;)

  2. Lovely prompt, sista! I'll see what I can do.


    We walked that Thanksgiving. God blessed us with a sunny day and mild temperatures, so I accompanied Dad while he surveyed the land.

    In the old days, he would have driven down the road to look at the crops and livestock. When asked, I would always go with him. Later in life his yard became his kingdom.

    Out the back door, with the dogs following closely behind, we paused by the Bradford Pear. “This is Emily’s tree; it’s 17 years old…I planted it the year she was born,” he said of his oldest granddaughter, and her corresponding tree.

    We stood there for a few minutes as the breeze whispered through the near-bare branches. Dad pointed to one the birdfeeders hanging there – some that I had given to him over the years. “That one’s always been my favorite; the birds like it, too.”

    I smiled.

    Next along his usual walking route was a pair of Red Bud trees. He commented on the fact that one was much smaller than the other because a storm had taken one of them out, and the replacement wasn’t nearly the same size…but that he did what he could. I’d heard the story many times before and could have told it myself. Instead, I waited until he finished to ask the question to which I already knew the answer. “Who’s trees are these?”

    “Amy’s,” was his reply, “I planted them the spring after she was born; 1995.” Wow, nearly 14 years ago.

    We walked a bit further, past the Lilac Bushes he had coaxed into growing out of their indigenous zone; the tall Evergreens he had had the foresight to plant along the property as a barrier to the neighbors—before there were neighbors, and the Dogwoods he’d planted because he’d fallen in love with that tree when he had moved to Arkansas.

    Dad was a little tired, so we didn’t go down past the pond; at the top of the slope we stood together for a bit. “I sure wish I would have been able to clear out that area around the pond like I had hoped to do.” And then, with a catch in his voice, he pointed down the hill, “That’s where I buried Maggie” (a dog he had for many years, who made the move from Iowa with him).

    Turning back toward the house, we walked in silence. We stopped in the middle of the yard and Dad called for his dogs: Salty, Pepper, and Cinnamon all came running, and we kept walking. He didn’t want to tell me so, but I think our walk was tiring him out.

    Just before reaching the house, Dad leaned against the post at one end of a flower bed; Katy’s Butterfly Garden, to be more precise. “Twelve years of butterflies; they’re so beautiful,” was all he said, as if now, in the winter, he could still see them. He reached out touched the edge of the bird bath as he called to his dogs once more.

    We walked that Thanksgiving. Little did I know it would be our last.

    1. Oh, Paula. This is so touching. I am with you every step of that walk, and heartbroken when I realize it is your last. You've connected such tangible things to heart strings. Just beautiful.

    2. Thanks, De. I had been meaning to write down the story of that last walk with Dad...your prompt was just what I needed to get me to it!


    A singular ash tree grows in the hollow at Willoughby Gulch. Proud and majestic, her branches stretch skyward in a graceful flow. Below, the crowd that had gathered starts to disperse; the party is over.

    If you asked the buzzards circling high above the mass of humanity, they would tell you that what had just transpired was a major waste of time; a waste of good life. But, they would do it with hunger in their eyes. The sky was a brilliant blue and the wisp of cloud cover gave a hint of a breeze.

    Judge Malcolm glanced over his shoulder as he boarded the stagecoach. Justice wasn't doled out swiftly at all. It took all of fifteen minutes for Rance Calhoun's legs to cease kicking. His lifeless carcass swayed in the wind, his bulging eyes stared at the departing guests. The devil that possessed his twisting corpse recorded the faces of those in attendance. There'll be hell to pay when they cut him down.

    1. Oh, my. Such a twist with this one, Walt. Literally. I can picture him there, twisting in the wind. So compact. A tight, well-written, powerful piece.

    2. The twist was great, Walt. It reminded me, chillingly, of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.

    3. Oh! Yes! That's exactly it, RJ!

  5. Walt...that first paragraph had me imagining a picnic or family reunion of some sort: a happy occasion. Then the next paragraph: buzzards! And what a great image to use for those who watched just such "parties" with that same hunger in their eyes.

    What a great capture of so many layers of "humanity" as you called it. Your writing constantly amazes me.

    ~ Paula

  6. I Speak for the Scars

    They cut me.

    Etch their initials, their dreams, their anger into my ancient skin. Carve names, words, phrases:

    Daniel Loves Isabelle!

    Alexa + Kyle Forever

    Mrs. Carissa Elena Jasperson

    Bite me, Johnny V.

    Angel Rose 2001-2011

    Love me.


    I let them.

    Because I know. I understand this hope of new blooms. I, too, inhale the magic star-spilled nights of summer. I am no stranger to the ache of loss, leaves tossed to the wind every fall. I have survived the naked, lonely chill of winter, again and again. And I know the need for loose-held life, deeply rooted hope.

    I am old, but my limbs do not grow tired of carrying these burdens. And so I speak for the love, the loss, the broken hearts. I carry their questions, and I give them a safe and shady place to wait for answers.

    1. Oh my goodness...I love every perfectly-chosen, well-placed word of this entire piece. As I read, I kept thinking that is going to be my favorite line/, that, that one...all the way to the end. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

  7. Each of you are such creative forces! So inspiring, thank you guys!! And, De, love your prompt. :)