Dr Abe V Rotor
Skeleton of Agoho (Casuarina equisetifolia) of the Pine Family, QC, 2017
Half a century I lived, my master is now gone, his generation remnant
of tradition, imprimatur of the old school, the values of old, outstripped
by today's postmodern living.
My death is also the death of my friends: lichens and mosses on my
bark, ferns and lianas on my limbs, mycorrhiza and rhizobia in my
roots, and others in symbiosis with me.
My demise is also a great loss to countless dependents: insects
feeding on my leaves, bats feeding on my cones, bagworms housed in
my needle leaves, earthworms thriving on my litter.
My crown was once a huge umbrella for tired passersby, stopover
of birds in their migratory route; it buffered strong wind, and filtered
dusts and carbon in the air, cooled the surroundings.
I stood tall to reach out for the sun and through photosynthesis
converted its energy into food and other materials, while releasing
oxygen to balance the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Like my relative, the pine, I did not shed my leaves all at once unlike
the deciduous trees; instead I shed my leaves as they grew old, thus
I kept the landscape evergreen all year round.
My life was a struggle like my kin in the wild abiding with the laws
of nature; unlike them however, I lived on the whims and dictates of
the human community in which I was introduced.
I did not have a family of my own, my children were weaned early
and carried to places I never knew; nonetheless I learned to live well
in a man-made community of plants humans called park or garden.
I played with children in my shade and on my limbs, lulled them in
their cradle, the old in their hammock, the bold in their swing,
whispering, humming, creaking in nostalgic pain and laughter.
Many times I joined their celebrations, tasted their beer, held up their
flag and banner, joined in their singing, kept secrets of lovers who
marked my trunk their initials and vows leaving traces of memories.
I grew up with kids until they left home, rejoiced at their return,
welcomed and showered confetti to friends and guests, prayed for the
sick, grieved for the dead, expressed my own way of compassion.
I was pruned many times to give way to electric lines and cables,
road widening, for necessity of firewood and materials for various
crafts, or simply for aesthetic reason whatever that means.
Progress, I had my share too, but I got mostly the harmful consequences:
pollution, congestion, global warming, acid rain, ailments that
accompany the Good Life, which progressively led to my demise.
I have been standing dead for some time now and no one seemed to
care, save the termites and fungi gnawing on my skeleton, and some
black birds that sit awhile on my bare crown.
I rise up and peep into the hole in the sky beneath me, and if this is
a gate to an afterlife told by man to be so beautiful, I ask my Creator
if I too, deserve the gift of eternal life and happiness only a place
called Heaven can give. ~