Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Inside the Willow Tree
You might be surprised at what you'd find inside an old willow tree that finally gives up, one day in the wind, when the only branches it has left collapse into the rose bushes, like an old man who lays down one last time to take a whiff of the roses before he dies. It was a good smell, I noticed, as I cut away the branches, lopped the trunk into sections I could handle with the wheel barrow. There was mint in the garden, a smell of fresh soil like a new grave. I draped the willow branches over the pickup truck until it looked like a haystack had fallen into the bed. I looked at the trunk still standing and it too looked weary enough to fall, so I leaned into it hard until it moaned, and I leaned again, and one more time I leaned and it let out a kind of whoosh as it fell and the rotten center scattered, the pieces full of holes the bugs had made. Soft inside like a soggy tree-bed, it wasn't a tree at all, it seemed, but a standing sponge with bark on it, its center gone and filled with what seemed to be the richest soil on earth. I thought of Queequeg reaching into the head of the whale for its ambergris as I lifted handfuls out and tossed them to the roses. My back sore and enough of the tree gone so I could quit, I returned to take these pictures as the setting sun lit the lilacs, now on their last legs of the year.