Scraped, bent, broken, skin peeled back. All limbs abandoned in the ditch. Some rolled there from where they fell in the spitting bits. Wet. Frozen. But burning like fire. Cut down.
“I hate The Giving Tree,” I say.
“He’s all used up by the boy.”
“And he’s happy about it.”
Twisted in new angles. Torn from the connections they grew into. Some had time, others are not that old. They take others with them who clung to what seemed sturdy.
Pop! Crack! Thump! Splinter from round to sharp like fingers, elbows and hips. It’s war that Mother Nature wages on herself.
“Wage war on yourself?”
“That’s a strange question to ask a person.”
When the air regains its balance, the wind is simply words and breathes and gasps at what remains. The dogs sniff along the new lightness, the bones now exposed and close. Up and down and over. He pees.
“I can’t believe this is happening.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“I had nowhere to go. I should have never tried to go anywhere.”
“I was worried. I’m glad you made it home.”
The axes hack and saws buzz. Bulldozer hydraulics strain and sweat oil. No more blood.
“You’re still swinging.”
“Why so much force? Why push?”
“How then? I don’t know another way.”
“How to what?”
“You can’t. Their death is part of the landscape now.”
“To stop others?”
“No. It won’t stop them.”
Clouds cluster and build in sky corners. Just after enough calm to forget to turn eyes upwards, they come. In the light and the dark, they come. The wetness just spits and taps and patters. It seems harmless at first.
“Why didn’t you turn back? Why did you start at all?”
I shrug. “They dogs needed a walk.”
“You’ve lived here long enough to know better.”
“I thought I could beat it home.