The Ash Tree
The ash tree in the front yard has been swaying for hours. This tree has become your weatherperson, barometer, and part-time cohort. Your exchanges with this tree began 25 years ago, when you were more pliable in body and temperament. Since then it has silently presided over all your changes, and, on Thanksgiving Day three years ago, endured your drunken soiling of its trunk. On threat of divorce, you were forced to apologize to the tree the next morning. You have fenced it to protect it from animals, you have watered it overnight against City ordinance, and your children know its lower branches better than you do. For a single summer, its largest branch – known to your family as “The Strong Arm” – held a rope swing. Your eldest fell from the swing once, and required a trip to the emergency room. That was the first time you feared death. Your daughter returned to the swing less than a week later. She asked you about The Strong Arm, if it could ever break. Of course, you lied and said that it could.
© Michael Gravel