In a strip 4 x 8, they pile the dirt. And in the dirt they dig a hole. And in the hole they put a tree. It is a young tree, delicate limbs, thin bark, roots just beginning to spread. The box is split, the tree hauled out, and it is plopped in the ground with little care and less grace. A tablet is tossed in, a splash of water, and the dirt is piled back around it. On either side two stakes are pounded in, and wires trap it tightly in place.
But somehow, that tree manages to grow. Though the soil is hard and barren, and the watering is inconsequential, somehow the branches reach a little higher for the sun, and the roots dig a little deeper towards the ground.
Come spring, it catches a dream on the breeze. From its prison, it dreams of wide open spaces, where its branches can grow, where the soil is rich and moist, where it is in the company of the ancient one, and its roots can intermingle like those of a lover.
The tree grows bigger, and somehow it survives while the others have fallen. Its only company now are the cars on the street and the occasional dog who uses its lap as a toilet. Even though a branch is mangled by a careless truck, still it grows – though now a little off balance.
The stakes are still there, the wire wrapped around the trunk, long forgotten. And though once upon a time, they did their duty, holding the tree upright in buffeting winds, they now cut into the flesh of the ever expanding trunk.
Do trees cry, one wonders. As this tree grows, as cell after cell pushes below the cells above it, the wires do not give. And so it grows, until those wires are embedded so deeply we could not remove them if we wanted to.
And as the tree grows, so do its roots. Having no place else to go, they sidle up and out, shifting dirt and cracking concrete, finding just a little relief. ‘Aaaah,’ it must breathe in: some air, some room. ‘Aaaah,’ it sighs again, stretching toes.
But the prison is meant to remain intact, and the men cannot have the tree leaving its limits. And so one day they come with their saws blazing and their picks hammering, and they cut. And they cut. And they cut.
Do trees scream? As their roots are slashed and their branches hacked. As their bark is stripped, and their tops lopped. Do they scream?
Or perhaps, in their agony they drift away to a better place. Perhaps they dream: of a place high up on a mountain where the air is still clean. Where the splash of the nearby stream soothes their parched souls. Where the cooling of the temperature slows their blood and their leaves burst out in an explosion of color? Where their branches are filled with birds and insects that build homes in their hair. And when the breeze rifles thru their leaves, and a sweet shudder runs thru their limbs, do they quiver in delight?
Do trees dream?