Death Rattle


It’s not unusual for a tree to give off an aura of permanence, but impermanence? This one practically stepped out in front of me asking that I register it in the codex of my own mortality as if it were a fleeting shade rather than a young oak standing in the cloudless heat of a summer day.

Maybe it had a prophetic streak, standing within sight of encroaching machinery by the edge of a farmer’s field. It had the insane markings of a witch doctor’s pitiless painted eyes. And scored claw-like scratches. Or scars of a pagan ritual. What internal chemistry had designed these tell-tale runes for it to self-prophesy its own demise?

Or was it mine? Was I being compelled to read my own mortality in the cryptic language of the earth, to be reminded by this Ancient Mariner of that once and future curse? That old primitive: Death.

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