A formal introduction must be made. Hello. I’m the girl that read The Penderwicks under your branches, got helicopter seeds stuck in my hair (later picked out by laughing hands).
You are now somewhere unknown to me, somewhere you dreamed about incubated in wooden heartbeats, dreamed about as a seed, when you were small (held in jacket breast pockets), had hope you could travel in the stomach of a wren.
Maybe you are a new thing, curled in a new husk, wishing for the thrill of choppy wingspans.
I have not been there for your whole life, I do not know all of you completely-- you are something foreign to me, a being unable to express thought except to curl to the wind’s will when they arrive in winter. Let leaves fall away like shedding memories, at the insistence you will be able to grow new ones.
Hannah put a glass heart in your branches one year, do you remember? When she would take her backpack into her arms and wait near you, listening to you breathe. Listen as the wind translated all your poetry to the world, in a language only the birds could understand. They sang back everyday, could you hear them?
You were witness to all of our games, our arguments. When we would all run by you in child shaped blurs, and you were glad of your roots, glad of your wisdom to observe.
In my memory you’re always lingering at the hazy fringes of scenes, when Sakura and Yoko came back for one day, our rocket-boots strapped on (faster than ranger’s horses), when Rose would race all the boys and win, every single time.
It was nighttime when I heard you had been cut down, batted away mid-air like a small nuisance in the face of something greater.
The sky was open-faced, honest about it in its great indifference. The house a little too empty (in guilt? In shame?). I felt a sinking feeling in the base of my chest, something heavy, achey, hurting that bloomed through my lungs. I couldn’t bring myself to touch the stump, all shock-white like a new burn, remnants spread like fallen ashes (the kind you might mistake for snow).
You had been proud and not so young anymore, an aura akin to something wise, as if the tips of your branches had inhaled time through rain clouds.You and your spindly hoopskirt, glazed in the brown and reds of fall.
I know you can’t see your stump, your beginnings below your unmarked grave. It is unnaturally sharp, and too low to sit upon (something I know you would have hated). The shock-white has faded to yellow now, and your grave is getting older by the day. Memory is getting older by the day.
Looking back, all I can see is Nate skateboarding down the hill backwards, intent on being silly and stupid and little. I see the ending of The Penderwicks, all soft and bittersweet (like dark chocolate), with my sandpaper voice catching on the last chapter. They’re all fading away from me now, turning their backs into the abyssal hole of overstuffed file cabinets resting in my mind somewhere.
Wherever you are, know you are missed. Here’s a eulogy to you, standing at your grave.