Ode to a Tree

I wrote this as an assignment for an English class. We’d been reading similar literature and were told to go out around the campus, and write about what we observed. I picked one of the trees in the quad that had recently been mutilated by some overzealous tree trimmer…

The tree springs from the ground, its trunk twisting as it pushes upward, away from the dark confines of the soil below, reaching ever skyward with branches cut bare, limbs severed at their joints. The tree’s bark is patchy, giant swaths laid bare by the ravages of careless hands, with the carvings of names open wounds that have never properly healed. Dead leaves lay scattered across the grass below, forming a halo of shattered debris that bears final evidence to the assault that has occurred. Waxy green leaves dot the remaining branches, defiantly resolute. “We are still here!” they seem to declare.

Laid bare thus, the tree appears now sickly, deformed, more brown and gray than green. What little of its rough bark skin has not been sloughed off hangs precariously, broken and cracked, with insects traversing the cavernous furrows of their desolate, desecrated home.

Yet, despite the indignity, the atrocity of it all, the tree still reaches ever skyward, toward the towering blue dome above, with its nurturing, nourishing sunlight, seeking escape and solace from the crushing weight at its feet.

I sit on the grass below, green, soft, downy, gazing upward as the tree, ever defiant, continues its quixotic quest. I marvel at the arrogance inherent in those who would attempt to cage and constrain such a magnificent creature as this, even as I am torn by pity and disgust at the sight which lay before me. What hubris, to achieve the goal shared by this silent behemoth, only to rend asunder one that has done us no harm in seeking to obtain it.

The size of the tree bears testament to the things it has witnessed, the years passed in silence as it stretched heavenward. It has been here far longer than any of us, and it will outlive us all by a fair share. It is patient. It is a tree.

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