So Tree-Less

a monosyllabic prose poem

( 1 word/1 beat)

By Jing Villamil


YOU were the tree from which we sprang!

Your roots clutched, held and fixed us on firm ground; strange, for you rose from sand! You reached out high and wide your leaves to seek the sun. Then you searched round for those dark clouds to catch the rain. That we may be fed, cared for, made strong.

You raised our sights up, safe in your arms, and you showed us the ways of this world – not so kind, yet not so bad. Thus, when we (so young, so weak, so blind) went our ways or were torn from you, we faced the fierce the fire the flood, and lived through past our storms! You smiled at the feat – a tweak of the lips, a wink of a lens, twigs-up!

A tree to our lives you loomed; but in your core you bore the wounds that had not scabbed, healed, scarred. They stabbed your back deep, did they not? They to whom you gave your love and trust? And he, your flesh and blood, pledged to you and God to right the wrong he knew was done to you. His pledge has gone to naught.

You hid your tears from us, but glints on the rims of your lens were hints of the pain, years and years of it. There was no hate there; you loved them just the same. You just walked out. To where you tried to find your peace. You wrote of these – three books, inch-thick, bound in red. One book tells of your love for us, the joys shared, in notes and cards, sent forth and back. One book tells of the tales of your clan since when you were not a life. To when you were a child who shied from “them”. To the man who stood “tall”, not bent, with the weight of the past. This man who hummed his way through his lights, his grays, his dark.

The third book has no end. It tells of your “ghosts”. They haunt and hound us still. As we walked where you may have walked to be so lost, this ghost who lived with the trees, walked too with us. On a hill, as I crawled through grass and shrubs for tell-tale signs, I felt it lay its rough palm full on my nape. Like – “look there!” I looked – a small search plane, flown by a priest, searched the seas. I looked – a priest at the next hill poked a stick through mounds of leaves.

I felt faint. I slumped on the ground. “What is this with the priests?” Then, cold whiffs, chilled puffs. Ice in the midst of heat!

“Oh, dear! You need now your friends, these priests!” I ran down, fast.

You had your mass as the sun set; it too was your time of day. I fled and hunched low with the waves. The sea washed the tears from my eyes. Salt to salt. Sad to sad.

I wished. I prayed. So hard! That God must have held you in His arms. Through the worst done to you. Till you ceased to breathe. Till you found your peace.

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