I married Isis on the fifth day of May,
But I could not hold on to her very long

So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away
For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong.

We drove through the night, relator chirping about in the frontseat while I sat in the back, staring out the window, watching the scenery, crystallized in the cold January ice, seeing things I’d seen before, only different. Dave sat in front, chattering about with the realtor as I blew into my hands, trying to blow the cold clear on out.

Carefully, we approached the last house on our list for the night, a hulking monstrosity built in the 1970’s, similar – but not identical to – the house I grew up in. Cold crunched the tires, making a somber squeak, as we pulled into the driveway, the lights blazing inside bode a warm welcome from the howling night. Dave and the relator zipped on ahead to greet the owner as I stood there a moment alone, under the tree, which, in the frigid January wind, tinkled mournfully like the world’s saddest windchimes. I looked up and noticed the streetlights as they caught the ice encasing the branches, and the whole world seemed to shimmer for a moment.

I stood there mesmerized, not feeling the cold seeping into my bones.

“Becky,” Dave called. “You ready to go in?”

————-

As we rode through the canyons, through the devilish cold,
I was thinkin’ about Isis, how she thought I was so reckless.

“It’s so beautiful,” I said that spring as we drove through our neighborhood, the trees lush and green, their branches happily intertwined from either side of the street as though they were trying their hardest form a canopy above. I could spy bits of blue sky between the leaves, but driving ahead, it appeared as though we were driving through a secret cove to our home.

“It really is,” Dave agreed, “It really is.”

————-

Then I rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her.

She was there in the meadow where the creek used to rise,

Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed.

“What’s this?” I asked, blinded by exhaustion and in dire need of a bed to rest my body as the early morning dawn rose, the sun wrangling it’s way upward, as if to remind us that if we had forgotten, once again, we’d been up most of the night at the hospital with our young son and infant daughter. The words ran together in an alarming manner as I tried to piece together the letter that had been unceremoniously shoved into the mailbox under the tree I had, what felt like a lifetime before, stood and listened to the music it had created.

I gasped as though I’d been sucker-punched.

“The tree,” I said. “It’s dying.”

“Which one?” Dave asked me, blearily trying to understand the words I was stringing together. I nodded at the Ash tree, which had once sung me a mournful song, as if to warn me that things would not always remain the same. Tears inexplicably filled my eyes, which I quickly swiped away, blaming them on exhaustion.

“That one,” I said simply. “That one.”

————-

I came to a high place of darkness and light,
The dividing line ran through the center of town.

“They’re clearing the Ash trees from our side of town,” my mom told me one afternoon, the following summer. “They neighborhood looks so different.”

I fixed my gaze on the tree outside my window which had once sung a lone haunting melody, and, lost in thought, murmured my displeasure as my daughter crawled up my leg, trying to figure out what Mama was staring at.

“They haven’t started here, yet,” I said hopefully, still looking at my tree. “Maybe my tree will be okay.”

She simply stared at me, words unspoken.

——————

The wind it was howlin’ and the snow was outrageous,
We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn.

The earth woke up this spring, telling me tales of a mild winter, the ground cold, but not frozen as I planted flowers of purple and pink, the tree slowly waving its barren branches above me as if to warn me. You don’t mean it, I said to the tree as I worked in the yard, growing something beautiful where none had grown before. You can’t mean it.

The tulips I’d planted years before bowed and bobbed in the warm spring breeze, as if to say, “almost time, almost time.”

Silly flowers, I thought. What do you know about death and dying? All you know is rebirth, starting over.

isis

The tree dropped a branch, long since dead, next to me as I worked the earth, as if to say, “believe me now?”

I didn’t.

—————-

When he died, I was hopin’ that it wasn’t contagious,
But I made up my mind that I had to go on.

“Mama,” my daughter asked a couple of weeks ago. “Why’s there a purple and pink dot on the tree?”

My heart sunk.

“Because it’s dying,” I said simply. “It’s time.”

—————

I broke into the tomb, but the casket was empty
There was no jewels, no nothin’ – I felt I’d been had.

“Did you see that there are no-parking signs outside?” Dave asked on Monday.

I nodded.

“The city must be taking down our tree,” he continued.

I nodded.

Finally,” he said as if he’d been waiting his whole life for that sign.

I nodded again, turning my back so he couldn’t see the tears.

—————–

How she told me that one day we would meet up again,
And things would be different the next time we wed.
If I only could hang on and just be her friend

I still can’t remember all the best things she said.

Branches half dead now, entire sections of the tree destroyed, the tree still stands in front of my house, as if to thumb its finger at passers-by: yeah, I’m still here.

Not for long. Not for long.

Trying in one last attempt to save itself, the tree has grown saplings that jaunt merrily from the bottom, a sign of renewal in a time of death. I want to run out, screaming, give up and give in – let go, it’s over.

It’s time, I tell the tree each morning. It’s time. It’s over. Give up. I’m sorry I didn’t listen – you were right.

The branches sway lovingly at me, creaking a new tune – it’s final tune: we must move on, we must move on.

This time, I listen.

I still can remember the way that you smiled,
On the fifth day of May in the drizzlin’ rain

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19 Responses to Isis

  • This was an incredible read. I love it.

  • Grace says:

    Your writing is so beautiful, Becky. Isn’t it amazing how we get so attached to things like trees? I still miss the trees from my childhood home.

  • Meredith P. says:

    Another amazing post Becky, you almost made me cry again for like the 5th time this month. :)

    My husband had a favorite tree in our neighborhood (the same neighborhood he grew up in) that got cut down not too long ago and it tore him up for several days. It’s amazing the things we fall in love with as we grow up don’t even realize how much we love them until they disappear.

  • Sherry says:

    Well shit Becky…thanks for making me cry at work…over a tree.

    That was really a great post btw.

    Sherry

  • Mrs.Joyner says:

    Aunt B..That was beautiful..Making me tear up as I read it…I feel like it’s about more then just the tree..Either way, haunting, lovely..as are most of your posts of late.

  • Carol Anne
    Twitter: NJdreaming
    says:

    This is incredible. I actually read it earlier today but it made me cry so hard I had to come back to comment. This is really, truly beautiful.

  • Becca says:

    Earlier this year I sat outside while Crys and the girls planted flowers. I couldn’t help because my back hurt so bad. Then after my surgery I watched the weeds overtake my pretties, and soon they were all covered because Crys was working and taking care of me. One day my brother came over and mowed it down, I swear I died a little when he did. All that work for nothing. Sigh… Hugs.

  • Janis says:

    As someone who loves trees and other plants and gets attached to them, I totally understand.

  • Jenn says:

    One of my favorite posts of yours ever. I’m so sorry for your tree, and everything it represents. When they cut the branches of my willow, I cried… and it’s still alive, just not very weepy anymore. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if they cut it down!

  • Absolutely beautiful post Becky… it hit close to home. Having just gone through a divorce myself, I can see the linkage between the tree dying and the marriage dying… we must move on, we must… and even though it’s been a mutual divorce for myself, when I think back to the day we got married, and the times before that, I can’t help but feel that lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes.

    Hang in there. Beautiful post.

  • Sarah Doyle says:

    I’ve been lurking, but so consumed with my own life, I haven’t commented much.

    I clicked on your blog link from mine tonight, exhausted, tired and sick of feeling so self consumed. This post touched me so, so, so much that I just had to write and say “thank you.”

    Maybe if I got out of my own head a little more, I’d find more pieces like this to read, ya know? Isn’t funny how we, in the bloggin’ world, kind of flit about aimlessly, yet keep our favorites close at hand? Well, I do anyways, lol.

    Thank you Aunt Becky

  • jeri says:

    Aunt Becky, I know you’re going through a difficult time, but your writing is becoming more eloquent with every post. This is good stuff. You never fail to surprise.

  • Joannie says:

    This was poignant and subtle and just … good.

  • Sam says:

    I really need to avoid reading your blog while listening to Pandora. Doing so just makes me weepy, and THAT is something my eyeliner and I should avoid. This time, it was Pink Floyd singing to me about Coming Back to Life – which I found lovely. (Even more so because I have never listened to a Dylan song that spoke to me, but Floyd and I have been going steady for about 15 years.)(This year, my birthday present to myself involved watching Roger Waters perform The Wall. I also accidentally drank after taking a sedative. It was an interesting…show…) Very nice stuff – keep healing by writing, my imaginary internet friend.

  • Pingback: When one door closes… | Snarky Kisses

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