Friday, March 24, 2006

Bitter Oak Heart


At the south-east corner of the park there is a wrought iron gate coated with decades of green paint. It gives access to Eden’s overgrown and unkempt botanical gardens.
Un-signposted pathways criss-cross between tall hedges and under ancient overhanging trees; through giant bushes and verdant floral explosions. Leaves blow in the breezes that cool the summer bloom and insects whistle and click in imitation of wilderness.
There is an area on the northern boundary of the park; alongside the tall hedge of lylandii that separates it from the swishing motorway, where the administration keeps its botanical tools; seedlings; hothouses and gardeners. In the corner where they chuck the empty fertiliser bags and bits of rotten fence; there crouches an old well. The trees hang over and peer in to this nondescript hole in the ground, a hole that long ago gave up giving water.
The trees understand the process. They write their stories in chlorophyll and cover their tracks in bark. Unlike the foolish flowers, the trees don’t give their secrets away. They work in seconds that last days; in hours that pay heed only to the sun by day; and by night they blow the oxygen off their shoulders like dandruff; twisting and creaking a life in amber slow-time.
Understanding the language of trees requires that you sit still for longer than it takes to smoke that cigarette, longer than it takes for your ass to go numb and cold and the dew to settle on your pale skin and dark fringe.
The verdict handed down to my guilty contemplation is executed not in physical pain but in the rising of sap; the pruning of thoughts; the clarity of memory.
Sweet cedar or bitter oak, the taste cannot be expunged from the guilty heart that beats at my core. In my heart I rake the tell-tale leaves that surround the well, tend it like the groundskeeper in this cemetery of one; I can neither mourn nor forget. I have not been in the park for years; I am afraid of what I will find there.

Exerpt from 'Markov Chain'

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