Sunday, February 13, 2011

For Trees Have No Tongues (Muse 9)

First Muse Part 1
First Muse Part 2
Deep Sleep, Deep Space, Deep Shit
Reluctant Titans Part 1
Reluctant Titans Part 2
Fuck Origami
Ein Plein Air Part 1
Ein Plein Air Part 2
A Faint Hint of Ambergris 
Space Illiad 
Threepenny Bet
 Gotta be Careful What You Wish For
Percocet and Pudding

No birds roost in her foliage, no animals crave her shelter. She is old. Her time is past and the encroaching rim of suburbia means a bulldozer may take her down before natural forces end her life. "No hope for it I'm afraid. Needs to come down. I'll give it five years but one of these days that branch will hit your carport." The 'Tree Doctor knows. The Wisteria has done its job and time has taken its toll. "Just a matter of weather before she falls."  Three hundred years of silent watch; murder, intrigue, love and loss.  Wisteria no longer blooms and dying boughs sink low enough to almost kiss the ground. She has no tongue but she has memory.

Nathan Sedgewick wheels an old blind sailor across the property upon which he once lived. Now leased and waiting for the developer's machines to clear and subdivide. Angela is gone and Peter is in third stage residency at Castle Glen. God's waiting room.

His adopted son brings him here every Sunday to sit in beneath the grey gum and to listen to the river and the birds. Time, to recall the memories. Peter's tired. Two strokes have rendered him useless but he still has a brain. "Hello old girl," he greets the tree, now almost devoid of leaves but wrapped in voracious wisteria clinging close. It's 1988. Nathan is married and living in the suburbs but shows great loyalty to the man he now considers his father.

"Son," the old man forces words, slovenly and difficult to pronounce, "If that tree could talk . ." He reflects. She's hung a man, witnessed a killing, sheltered lovers, reunited a family.  She's stood silent witness to the lives of eight generations and still stands where others have fallen.  A point of amazement for the wheel-chair bound old man. "Dad? Why do you hold onto this place. Why not sell, live somewhere more salubrious than Castle Glen, enjoy your last days?" The old Seaman looks hard into his adopted son's eyes. "Because this is your mother's country. Bidjigal lived here. Their handprints are on the stone. Their blood beneath the tree." 

Nathan doesn't understand. The land is prime and ripe for development but his father won't hand it over. Around 66, 700square metre blocks would net him a tidy profit. Clear the house and the trees and perhaps he could squeeze in another 2 blocks or more. The old man won't budge. "Dad, I could sell it tomorrow. The market's ripe. It's worth a fortune and you'd want for nothing." Nice guy as he is, Nathan's in a hurry for his inheritance.

"Nate," his father rasps, "if this old girl could talk, you'd understand why I love this place. I might be doomed to a life of painkillers and pudding but this is where my heart is. This is home.  Right here is where I feel at peace. Promise me something?" Nathan, used to the ramblings of an old man thinks 'yeah yeah, whatever'.  But Peter is insistent, "Nathan promise . . keep this. Keep this place, keep this tree.  It's heritage, country, history, hang onto it for you and yours."

In a white room, with nobody around Peter Vale takes his last breath. On a property just north of Windsor, a tree groans as lightening strikes and splits her into two.  The ghosts of the past are released. Gulgil dances, Crossan curses, his daughter sighs. The convict is free, the prospector smiles, the doctor laments, the sailor salutes as the grey gum falls hard and heavy and comes crashing down.

Here lies a hardwood corpse, an aged behemoth. Her memories freed. Her voice always silent, for trees have no tongues, just memories.



  1. Nice wrap. Very nice wrap.

    Honestly, with some rewrites and edits... this could do something. Writing lengthy prose terrifies a lot of people. Not perfect, but this story and the fact that you knocked it out kicks some serious ass.

  2. Well thanks. Can't say I enjoyed the process but we shall see. Once Pearl Harbour's cleaned up, I'll have a crack at fixing this.

  3. I think the idea is great, perhaps you sould blur the clearance between the father and son as the son is a bit stilted.
    The first and last paragraphs (or brackets as you have crafted them) are killer; perfect - keep em.

  4. . nice stuff--start to finish. The space iliad wasn't a perfect fit, but you've a way with characters and i think this is my favorite so far.

    are these some pictures of your property

  5. I really enjoyed how you did this with the tree inspiration. Very nice!

  6. I don't yet know what to say... I really enjoyed the wandering through history. There were a couple of points that sort of jumped more than I would have liked and caused me a bit of confusion, after the Space Iliad muse... I liked how at the beginning of the river, you put a nearly poetic prose before the pictures. Why did you quit that? It messed with my need for continuity and symmetry but mostly my neuroses. :) Enjoyed it. Will comment more later... Off to float on Tom's river.

  7. Brilliant ending. Simply stunning. I was wondering how you would end this, and love how you did it. I agree with what Jeffscape said, this kicks ass and could go far.