Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2013 - Page 13

Rises Tallest felt the rough bark of Brightest Red’s lifeless branches against his own. “Tell me more,” he said.

“I heard this from the woodpeckers, who heard it from the owls, who learned it from the humans.” The sparrow paused to twist his head around several times. “It was those white pebbles the humans put on the roads in the winter. The poison pebbles.”

Rises Tallest felt his sap quicken.

The bird looked around again and hopped from one branch to the next. “When the snow melts, the poison gets into the water, and then into the roots. The woodpecker said the owl said the humans said it was very bad for sugar maples, and the humans knew about it, but put the pebbles on the roads anyway.”

An anger, slow burning, hot as the red of his dead love’s leaves, grew within Rises Tallest.

The sparrow hopped across a few more branches, then flew away to find his next meal among the stale bread crumbs the human children liked to spread by the lake on the other side of the park.

When his anger had subsided, Rises Tallest spoke to the other trees through the soil. “The humans killed Brightest Red with their poison.”

The other trees lamented her death again and spoke of the time before the humans, when the only things trees feared were insects, diseases, and weather. Rises Tallest knew no living trees of this place truly remembered the time before, but the older trees all spoke of it with nostalgia to the younger ones. Rises Tallest had no time for these stories. His anger had burned into the shape of a plan. He would act.

“Will you act with me? For Brightest Red?” he asked the other trees.

One by one, their answers came back to him. Yes. They would act. They would not remain silent after the death of their sister.

“Send your roots deep,” Rises Tallest said. “Wrap them around the pipes, around the buried wires. Send your roots wide. Crack these paths and sidewalks upon which they spread the white things that killed Brightest Red. Send your branches to the cables above us, so when mother sky sends rain and wind and ice, and our arms grow heavy, we can let them fall and tear, crash through glass and metal.

“Send your roots deep, and your branches far, until the humans have nothing upon which to scatter their poison but rubble.”

The trees stretched their roots and shook their branches. They flexed their trunks, making their outer bark creak and groan. It sounded like a heavy storm was blowing through the park, but the air was still and calm.

Thomas | 9