How can such an act of violence be a proclamation of love I say as you carve our initials into the tree.
It means I’ll love you forever, you say, not looking up or away from your work,the tip of your tongue poking out as you concentrate. Like a snake, I think.
I don’t see how, I say, and dig my hands deep into my pockets as the wind gusts through the naked branches. This tree won’t be here much longer, it’s got the mark.
What are you on about, your voice raised an octave, a clear sign I am starting to niggle you.
The red splodge, I say, there. I go up to the tree and put my hand to the trunk, pointing out the circle of crimson paint, an open mouthed kiss, like Judas. I spread my fingers out over the spot, hiding it from view for a second before revealing it again, a poor magicians trick.
It means it’s for felling, I tell him knowingly. Forestry management. I pause for a response. Means they can, you know, manage the forest better? I sound unsure.
Really? you say, not convinced, standing back to admire your work, brushing off a few slivers of bark that cling hopefully to my initial.
I’ve not heard that before, I reckon it’s a paintball mark. I’ve seen kids running through here from the estate with guns and that.
You walk towards me, returning the knife to your pocket. You coming? you say as you brush past me heading off, out of the woods.
I stay and look at what you have done. I trace my finger over each crude letter you have sliced into it’s skin. I look up at branches that sway and snap and struggle against the winds cruel embrace. I look through this and on and up, to a smudge of sky where birds soar and dive, soar and dive.