Saturday, 28 November 2009

I once heard... About a tree of broken promises

It towers so high, people say it reaches an 8th heaven; a tree, bare and naked and rough with lanes and lanes of grooves etched into its dry bark by old man time. So many in fact that one could believe that they each represent the lifeline of each being on earth, at least, that is what is said. This tree holds no fruit, no leaves. Instead, it stretches out into hands that reach towards the sky, yearning for something to hold. A gypsy once told me he watched as a new branch sprouted out from the side of its trunk, and a hand slowly drew it up, up and up until it stopped, and by that point no one was able to see it for all the clouds that had masked its wooden appendage. But not all of its branches were high up in the heavens. Some branches hung low on the tree, close to the earth, close to us. And they held bones; wishbones that dangled desperately, distressed and desolate.

I poured the gypsy a drink of moonshine on that autumn evening, standing by the back wall of the tavern, and he told me what he had heard of this tree.
"It lies in a no-man's land somewhere and everywhere," he gushed, slurring slightly under the influence of badly fermented cheap gin. "A tree, like no other, striking fear, awe, and melancholy all together. An orchestra of muddled feelings that you cannot begin to comprehend...I have seen it once when I saw that hand-branch shoot up, from afar. And when I blinked, I could not see it anymore." His head bobbed left and right before tipping as he lowered his eyes and stared through my knees into the back of his mind where he conjured his images. "It's the Tree of Broken Promises..." he uttered silently, more serious and less grandiose in his expression. "All those hands, reaching towards the hope of a divine consummation of the promise made between two. The universe has ears, and it whispers your promise to this tree. Don't think no one hears. Do not make that mistake surioară. Do not make that mistake. Mother earth hears, Brother Wind hears, Sister moon hears. And all comes to the Tree of Broken Promises. I have heard that that's when a branch breaks through the bark and goes up. That must be why it does that, it waits for the promise. Waits. Reaching up, up, up...", and as he is saying this he raises his jar with the murky homebrew in steps with every "up" he utters.
"And what have you heard of the lower branches? Why do they hang low like that?" I slowly and quietly ask, curiosity gnawing at my insides, as I hold the bottle of booze towards him as an enticing bribe, and perhaps a shield.

"Ah, va. Yes. those branches. The tired fallen ones. The promises that cannot hold anymore. Where the tree gets its name. You see surioară, they reach and reach and reach..." (once again, pushing his jar up representatively with every "reach",) "till the branches dry up, and they start to shrink and bend and fold onto themselves. This is what I've heard surioară. They fall to the earth, hanging low on the tree, and grow a wishbone. This is the tragic fruit they bear. A dry, brittle fruit that with one hand, very much like a clap, has no outcome. When a promise breaks, the tree makes a wish. It wishes that the promise will be fulfilled someday. So it holds its wishbone close to us, uselessly waiting for someone to end its wait. It waits with its heavy promises. încă mai este în aşteptare..."

I once heard about this tree from a gypsy with a gold serpent earring. We shared a bottle of moonshine under an autumn moon, behind a tavern in the town Segarcea. He told me of the heavy heart this tree unwillingly held, and the weight that mankind wickedly lay on its branches, bending and breaking and drying it up. And of this tree, I do not wish to hear anymore, for fear my heart may unwillingly bend and break and dry up.


cardejah said...

oh karma...
can these trees grow in our hearts?
because perhaps that is the peculiar feeling I've been harboring.

Anonymous said...

i like it