Huldu, Aziza, Fairies, we are all brothers and sisters under the skin. The tree drinks us up in long silver skeins of sap and we poke our faces out through the bark veil of our wooden host to spy on the world passing. We are laughing but we don’t judge you; each year of your life a moment of ours, your baby-gazing at the leaves which will fall, your toddler tantrums, the initials you carve on our cheeks, hand in hand with your gum- chewing lover. Your penknife cuts us to the quick but we share your pain, just as you suspect the marks might last longer than your love, the tattoo on your thigh, because the woman walking behind you is also cute and the man in the distance is hot. We see you approaching, swollen with child, bent in labour as you walk to the hospital because you thought there was time. We suck your fingers with mossy lips, lick with a beetle tongue, but you are too tired to notice our kiss blown on twig fingers as you push the pram in the early morning light. We pity those who walk, dutiful on Sundays, with heads full of doubts and deadlines, and harlequin dogs barking at gulls, reined in on a retractable string as they jump for that first, feathered mouthful, the bones which fly. And when you meander here, later, with slow steps, hoping to meet a neighbour, your children are a memory in postcards from Canada, stuck to your mirror with a vague promise to visit scrawled as a P.S. We sense the cold limbo of see you soon read through tears while the kettle boils in an advert break.
Soon, after the solstice fire dancers, we will dive from our tree which falls in a January gale on Edinburgh’s Meadows, sink into the surrendering earth and swim, synchronised with pointed toes, through mud and the mulched leaves of last year’s summer to the root of a new tree, push past each other to be sucked up into the light. Laced with amber, we will lean from the thin, liquid ladders of the thirsty tree which cannot help but draw us in, and see you again as you pass; friends who never tire of the old stories told in changing light.
Writer: Victoria White
Illustrator: Majh Helen Alander