The person in the tree never speaks not in words; but they give endlessly and golden. They leave us gifts of sweet-nectar fruit, leaves, and bark Honeyed sticks tangled in our hair when we rise and wake We make charms with tan bark skin, none that would stop an arrow But we have seen the way they have protected us — this person in the tree — they have watched, they have stood, they have grown and grown and grown since the beginnings of the smallest among us and since the endings of the ones who have slept long in the earth Beneath their strong branches so long this tree, this person grew with us, and we with them Our mischievous spirit of the deciduous, who brushes against unchanging cycles Each of us and each of our children sat silently with them, our girls, our boys, our both and our neither But when we are silent the person in the tree speaks always — speaks the world with birdsong, rustling leaves, sleepy sighs as we twine ourselves around their roots and around one another Not once did the person in the tree smuggle away a child, as some had warned they would the only farewells were the lost children who came to them and listened, and left to find things that were hidden (We could swear the tree smiled at those times, concentric halos of mid-afternoon light) But now the leaves stop falling — as the long autumn starts to sleep there comes a heavy winter The person in the tree speaks less, the tree bears less fruit, and even birdsong is quickly forgotten We never saw the person in the tree but we see even less as time goes on there is more coldness in their mantle and in one long morning the last leaf falls to ground we sleep poorly that night, mourning some new change but though we wake with hearts of sorrow we find joy outside our doors dainty piles of golden seeds, sparkling in the dawn We've never spoken to the person in the tree Still, there is a message in these seeds unsure if we are promised to or if we make a promise, "Carry me," they ask, as life kindles in our palms
Andrew Watson is a PhD candidate from Adelaide, Australia, who loves undoing gender in curious ways and drinking strange new teas. Their poetry can be found in Liminality and Strange Horizons. Drop in to find them for a chat on twitter at @magicspacegirl!