The kind tree and the nuthatch

There was once a tree which a nuthatch knew truly to be kind. When the wind blew scathingly and the tree felt the nuthatch to be uncertain in its step on the bark of its trunk, it would give up its nearby branches to the storm. When the wind only ruffled gently, the nuthatch taught it the joy of a cold stream against the feet.

The tree's heart and mind were under the forest moss, a conjunction of its bristling roots and the living earth in which they wound. But it could feel each knot of bark on which the nuthatch landed; could guide it with a drop of golden resin to refract the sunlight.

Yet the nuthatch did not belong this far north, and the time came for it to return.

Four deer then came to the tree when tiny, though to some it was aloof. With the slow vigour of its resin veins, with the time-wisened strength of its inner wood pressed into rings, the tree would teach them its kindness; feed them from its bark in the winter, from its buds in the spring and early summer, from blueberries and foxberries — nestling thickly underneath the high branches on one sunny side of it — in the late summer and autumn.

But the tree knew a sadness — had always known it. Lightened by the calm coming and going of its leaves, by transcendent days of early spring moss in longed-for morning warmth, by the first footprints of its deer-children in corruscating snow, but irremovable.

Much time passed. The nuthatch would send word to the tree, and the tree would send word to the nuthatch, proud to hear of it carrying out its work in its thickets.

One day the tree felt anew the touch of the nuthatch's little wing on its bark. The nuthatch told, long into the night, of open sea, of lighthouses on skerries, of low hills of rock and grass tumbling up from the shore, of forest — here like that of which the tree was part, there like the plains of a Western. The tree felt what the nuthatch had felt, and the nuthatch, hopping from trunk to branch to trunk, learnt in the lines of the wood of the deeds of the tree in the time that had passed.

Crashing away the tree's sadness, it was the visit of a day — but would endure, reverberating in trunk, branch, leaf, and root.

Composed during the evening of the 23rd of May, 2022. Written down in the evening of the 25th of May, 2022.

Last updated: 15:12 (GMT+2), 26th October 2022