The Tree

…..the below “story snippet” was inspired by and written for my linocut print entitled “The Tree” – it was written using the following word prompts:

challenge, forest, full moon, grab, hidden, midsummer, night, pause, race, scream, solid, trap, utter, waver, weaver, wild

A print of my linocut “The Tree” is on display and for sale at the Angels Gate Cultural Center’s exhibition: “A Stone’s Throw from Water: Explorations from Angels Gate Cultural Center’s Community Classes” The exhibit is on display until September 15, 2018.

the link to this exhibit is:

http://angelsgateart.org/gallery/community-class-students-and-teachers/

…..here’s the story that I wrote using these words:

“The Tree”

no one knew where it
came from
perhaps it was brought as a seed
by a bird
from a distant land
it was a tree unlike any other in the vast forest
i knew
every trail
every trunk and branch
every crest and vantage point
every hidden crevice and cave
of the vast dark deep wilderness that spread across the mountains
that surrounded our tiny village
but i had never seen
a tree like this one
ever before

the tree
grew in the middle of a natural meadow
facing due north
i always thought of it
as my North Star

the tree was always there for me
it had a calming effect on me

when i sat back against its
broad solid trunk
i felt enveloped by its peaceful energy

my earliest memory of the tree
was as a sapling
as a very small child
i had wandered away to find it
and fell asleep beneath
its tiny wingspan
of branches

the energy of the tree felt grounding and calming
i felt a rush of pure bliss
an expansive uplifting sense of harmony and unity with the tree
and the fulfillment of a deep belonging
although I was completely alone
i felt secure and safe
sleeping beneath it
in the warm sun

i screamed
when my mother found me
and took me away from my tree
breaking the connection so abruptly
shattering the sacred bonds
that i felt so deeply
with my tree

most of the villagers thought of me
as different
psychic insights
and prophetic visions
came naturally to me
i knew things
i could sense rain coming
on a sunny day
i knew whether a baby
would be a girl with blond hair
or a boy with dark eyes
i could tell which villagers were planning a nighttime tryst
and the hour in which would happen
some of the villagers
respected me
others feared me
and a few were openly hostile

my mother told me
that my unearthly powers were a gift
that it was one of the many things
that made me unique
and special

when i was a small child
my father carved a wooden amulet
he infused it with his intention to protect me
he created it from a branch that fell from the tree
after a fierce storm ravaged the land
i found the broken bough in the meadow
in the place where i usually sat
i felt it was a simple sacred offering
from the tree
to me

my father drilled a small hole in the amulet
and hung it on a leather cord
i always wore the amulet so that
i could feel the warmth of its worn wood
close to my heart

my father carved the remaining branch
into two larger talisman
he lifted me up onto his broad shoulders
so that i could hang one talisman on a nail above the front door
when i was done
he carried me over to the hearth
and i set the other one upon the mantel
i felt the energy of the tree fill our small cottage
with the safe cozy feeling
of home

my father was killed in an avalanche
he saved many villagers
but was unable to
save himself
i was still a child
for weeks i sat underneath my tree
visiting it each day even though the cold wind
cut through my coat
and the snow drift were high and deep
i sat and stared
at the jagged
bare
unforgiving cliff
that took
my papa

I screamed
I wept
I mourned
at his massive grave
under rock
under stone
under mountain

after my father was gone
my mother fiercely protected me
in her quiet way
even more than before
perhaps she understood
perhaps she
had a bit of
magic
too

my mother always had a calming effect on everyone
diffusing potential confrontations
she knew how to reach people
creating unity
and harmony
and a sometimes
uneasy
peace

as a young maiden
i was devastated when
my mother passed away from the fever
during a long hot summer
plagued with sudden cold spells
i didn’t see it coming
perhaps i unconsciously blocked it out

i

could

barely

function

for

a

very

very

very

long

t i m e

at a certain
point

the necessities of life

shoved me

back

into the world

i had inherited my mother’s
tiny cottage
and had taken up her trade
as a weaver
although unlike her weaving
my creations
always had a life of
their own

in the winter
wool blankets that i wove
would grow longer in length and denser in thickness
creating more warmth in the harshness of the season

in the summer
the blankets would shed tiny bits of fluff that would float
up into the air
it reminded me of watching clouds high up in the sky
drifting past
as i sat beneath the tree

sometimes the sound of the sheep
that provided the wool
would escape from one of my blankets
and a bleat or two could be heard
when a room was quiet
and still

sweaters that i wove
changed color with the seasons
thankfully though
they were not deciduous

the villagers seemed to accept me
and my life settled into a new routine

that all changed
one hot midsummer night
it was the eve of the full moon
I felt a sudden surge of darkness

perhaps
it was their fear of the magic in my weaving
perhaps
the growing light of the waxing moon had exposed and amplified their darkness
perhaps
they had simply reached some sort of breaking point
i wasn’t sure
why

as a young maiden
my psychic powers had grown
in strength and clarity
but for some reason
i couldn’t
understand
their rage
i couldn’t
understand
why they came after me
with such hate
perhaps
their darkness in their hearts was too dense
for me to see it
clearly

this time
as the sun set
on this night
i didn’t linger outside
to watch the full moon rise
as it cast its shimmering silvery light
across the village square
throughout the marketplace
bathing the thatched rooftops
and spreading to the forest beyond

i bolted my door
i held my amulet tightly within my palm
but i didn’t feel the peace and calm
that i usually felt

the other talismans that my father made from the wood from the tree
were still in place
above the front door
and on the mantel above the hearth

it was very hard to wait
knowing they were coming
but i wasn’t sure
what else
i could
do

the villagers came
at midnight
there were just a few
and i knew each of the angry men
that were coming for me
Herne
Karney
And Dewain
i could feel the heat from their torches and
their searing pounding hatred
their blinding fear
they were far beyond the realm of reason
when they reached my cottage

they pounded on
my oaken
door

and although i knew it was coming
i was jolted
and jumped

they uttered the word
i knew
i would hear
a challenge
spoken in unison
with a dangerous hiss

witch
witch
witch

for a moment
i felt trapped
i felt my amulet shift
the knot on the leather cord unraveled
and it slipped out of my hand
and clattered across
the wooden floor
stopping
under
the
back window

i knew i had to leave

now

there was no time
to waver
i rushed
to the window
grabbed my amulet
off the floor
as my hand shook
and i climbed up and out
of the window
as quietly as
i could

i raced away
as my heart pounded
and pounded
and pounded
my breath shoving in and out
in quick bursts
as i rushed along
a small overgrown footpath

Bran and Enid
were two villagers
that had been kind to me
but i couldn’t let
myself put them
in danger

so i headed for the tree
i couldn’t understand it
but i felt i would be
safe there

i paused
as i reached the edge of the meadow
the tree dominated the landscape with its majestic and graceful form
although i had seen it so many times
it still stirred a quiet yet profound sense of awe
within my heart
within my soul
every time i saw it
i always felt a sense of wonder
as if i was seeing it
for the very first
time

even now
i had to stop
for just one moment
to take it in

the tree’s massive roots snaked all the way across the expansive meadow
it reminded me of one of the great sea serpents
in my mother’s bedtime
tales
i turned to look back
at my cottage
i expected it
to be engulfed
with flame

it was strangely dark

i saw the three torches
heading up the road
i knew they were
coming for me

i turned
to race across
the meadow
but my foot caught
on a root
and my body was flung forward
slamming down onto
the ground
my ankle throbbed with pain
i struggled to stand
but couldn’t

the villagers were close
i could see their forms
within the light of the moon
there was something strange about them

when they came closer
i saw a strange black web
spreading across their bodies
they didn’t seem to notice it
but it was very clear to me
i felt that the web was draining their energy
and depleting their
life force

when the men spotted me
they began chanting

Burn the Witch
Burn the Witch
Burn the Witch

i tried to remain as calm as i could
so that i could listen to
my inner voice
the one that spoke to me
but there was
no answer

the black web
grew more densely around their bodies
the louder they yelled
as they reached
the edge of the meadow
they tried to rush
forward

but couldn’t
there was some sort of force field
that stopped them
they couldn’t step past
the massive roots of
the tree

this infuriated
the men
they yelled
and screamed at me
and the black web grew denser and denser

i thought i heard my inner voice w h i s p e r

hatred kills
love heals

i knew then
they were creating their own darkness
feeding the hatred
that fed the black web

i tried to help them
trying to get them to feel
some sort of love
i knew they would die
if they didn’t

i called out to Herne asking if his baby had spoken his first word
i asked Karney how many puppies his dog had last week
i couldn’t think of anything that Dewain loved
i tried and tried
but i couldn’t think of
a single thing that
he might care
about

i noticed a change
In Herne and Karney
the black web thinned
and then receded
in the space surrounding
their heart

Dewain
continued his chant
over and over

Burn the Witch
Burn the Witch
Burn the Witch

Dewain finally
pulled both men back in
and they began to chant again
i knew they were lost
i tried to shout
but they
couldn’t hear

the black web grew denser and darker

and then

Dewain screamed and unearthly scream

Die Witch

Burn in Hell

Now

he hurled his torch up into the air
aiming directly toward me

the other men threw their torches as well

time slowed

i watched the torches
arch through the air
i touched a bare root
connecting one last time to my beloved tree
i was showered by sparks and embers
as the torches fell
and hit the roots of the tree
in quick succession

and as they
hit
the roots of the tree
each
torch

bounced

and ricocheted

back

toward
each of the men
who threw the
fire

the black web
that covered their bodies
caught the sparks from their torches
it was
too fast to feel
too fast to react
too fast to scream
for a sliver of an unearthly second they were fully aflame
three towering columns of fire
and then
they were
ash
then dust
whipped away
by a gust of wind
rushing down the mountain pass
and they were

gone

Written by Susan Eileen Jizba
Weaver & Wordsmith….the Weaver of Words
………………weaving fibers & fables………………
http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWeaverOfWords

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One Response to The Tree

  1. shemann says:

    oh my! terrific story, I was on pins and needles and the linocut and broom are wonderful!

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