The winter earth resisted as I jabbed it with a spade, intent on planting in it a seed I found in my pants pocket. I dig a hole, just inches deep—a frigid little grave—and placed in it the seed I found and covered it with dirt and snow. I didn’t think that it would grow.
A year passed and I saw something poking through the snow. Skeletal and drooping low, a sprout was growing from the place I left the seed. Bending down I saw its leaves, pale, ivory things. I thought it best to leave it there, unhindered by my nurturing hands that tend to not really be of much use in a garden.
The sapling grew for twenty years into a pale tree that bore no fruit that I could see hanging from its branches. In fact, it seemed completely dead through seemingly alive. Its leaves were but veins without any formal shape. Its branches sagged like party streamers dampened by the fog that settles in the night after a party.
No birds ever stopped to rest between its branches. No squirrels scampered round its trunk. Dogs looking for a place to lift their legs always passed it by. I saw a sky-grey cat staring at it once, but that was only once.
Having kept my distance since the first year it appeared, I approached it in the morning of a February day. The trunk quivered just a little underneath my glove-warmed hands, which grabbed onto some branches large enough to support my weight. I climbed that tree, the ivory warming to my touch. I sat amidst the branches looking down to where I planted the seed twenty years before. Several times did I repeat this morning ritual. Until the spring arrived.
Like a piece of paper aging after years of bound un-use the ashen trunk was turning brown beneath the sun that turned the brown grass green. The fleshless leaves fell off the tree in a long-awaited fall. And in their place grew orange buds that blossomed when the summer came, the sun enticing them to show their pedals.
I climbed the tree as I did before and nestled in the flaming branches. It must’ve seemed to anyone that I was resting in the fallen sun that landed in my yard. For all I know I’m still sitting on a branch in that tree, dreaming of the future, now—of other graves that could hold life and fire.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.