The Lateral Tree R.I.P.

… for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee? (Deuteronomy 20:19)


Last Sunday I was to photograph you again for this journal. It was raining heavily when I came across where you should have been. The ground was sodden like a graveyard, your naked stump its tombstone, the pitter patter of the rain playing the last post. Gracefully you should have been leaning as if bearing the burden of the world, telling its tale in your annual cycle, heroically holding the fort and refusing to succumb.









Like another hero, a scheming Delilah stole up on you in the dead of your winter slumber to cut your tresses and stub you out. Their cold metal would have frozen at the sight of you bedecked in your virginal purity of spring. Their blades would have blunted were you challenged in your magisterial summer splendour. Your sagacious swaying in autumnal gusts showering the world with gold like a vision in Denae’s dream would have cured them of their machinations.


Cowardly they choose the fruitless winter when blind to your font of life they imagined you dead to kill you again.


I came across the foul deed on the Friday after you had barely been taken down. Your twigs were strewn about like scattered limbs, your entrails still visible in pools of sawdust. A veil of mist lay across the park shamed at the charge torn from its arms, the birds humming a dirge for the bride that will not emerge. I walked to where you should have been dreading the absence of your sight, the heart ripped from the corner that will forever be yours.



In your innocence you would stand harmless and defenceless. Your leaves whispered secrets of yore as gusts swayed your sagacious bough while you remained fortified by your roots. You laid to rest your tired head never to raise it again. Where once you stood proud and resolute, with dignity in your bow and grace in your poise there is now void and a frightening menace.



Like gnawing rats nothing did they leave behind but blade marks imprinted on your unadorned stub wagging a finger at the world. They could not though steal your shade where even the grass refused to grow as a tribute to your graceful presence. The trees around you bow their heads in shame that neither their height nor might could shield you as you were brought down never to come to life again.



I watched patiently as you turned from green to brown to yellow to gold without knowing that those would to be your final bursts of colour? Could you not survive one last spring for the world to see you in your finest dazzling moment? Did I by exposing you cause your demise? You stood for those who develop at an angle, who choose to look at the world from low down, who see not fulfilment in dizzying heights, who measure not greatness in towering over others. To us you did not lean but were straight in your own way. You grew laterally not vertically.



I see the white blossom of spring nearby and I ask should it not be red with your blood and blush with shame? Spring will soon emerge all around but you will not be there to take your rightful and proud part. If a view has been opened to your corner I see only what’s no longer. Let the flowers form a garland to cordon off the scene of crime. Let the trees provide the evidence. Let the birds halt their nest building to recall your silent, anguished cries as you nodded towards the ground beneath you one last time.

Falling from so low down you could do no harm; could they not afford to let you live?

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