Thursday, November 3, 2005

visvi owe`nv`sv

A family of sequoia trees in my headlights - mammoth bastards - seen through the thick cloud of dust after a sudden stop. Let's start here. My chin resting on the steering wheel. I'm staring, half-dazed, at the bark of one great tree in particular. Zoom in. Thousands of ants - maybe even millions - crawl up and down, marching through the deep grooves etched into the thick skin of this ancient tree. I see everything. I bloody well see it all. Every goddamn ant, every woody rut, every bead of sap - my eyes pick up every detail. The excruciatingly slow dripping of this trees lifeblood. Its slight sway in the wind. Roots worming their way through the ground. Having already spent 1,723 of its expected 2,057 years, this tree's life yawns, stretching slowly, as it prepares to enter the era of gradual decline. I was there at the planting of a tiny seed. I came for important moments along the way. And I will be there at the end.

And this is how it is when darkness creeps into something good. In an instant, the Jeep is thrown into park, and I'm at the tree, hands gripping roughened skin. Oginali. Hello, old friend. I feel its slow, sad pulse, the timeworn heartbeat of a millennia gone by. A deep tremble at my touch. There was a near miss once - a great fire in 1857. We took that near end and turned it into a new beginning. But that can't happen now; nothing can be done about the persistent march of time. Gaestost yuhwa danvta. I'm sorry, old friend. There will be a decline, and then death. A few centuries of rot. A slow return to earth. The completion of a circle.

Turning, I place my back against the tree's trunk, and slide down until I'm sitting at its base, squinting into the headlights of the Jeep. My head leans back, my eyes close, and an ant plays at crawling onto my neck. Utlvquodi ayawisgi. Proud warrior, not now. Keep away - and tell your friends. I tap a cigaret out of the pack and light it, filling my lungs to capacity. I hold it until my head goes all light, and my consciousness floats above me, mingling with the realisations of countless other souls. There's a thank-you whispered into my ear. Wado. An exhale. Of course I came. I had to. And I'll see you again in a few hundred. I'll walk with you, then, across the threshold. Together we will find our way. Donada`govi.

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