Old Man Norfolk

The old man is gone. He stood alone for a century. Not handsome, but very flawed. Twisted in the trunk, with even the main branches curved out, he looked as though he had grown up in a constant spiral wind. No ship's mast or spars would ever have come from this old pine.

He was a dangerous tree. In recent years he would stand for months then without warning shed a limb. He was roped off and people stayed away like he was an untrustworthy old grandfather. They didn't even run the lawnmowers under the poor old bugger, and he stood there for months in a wounded mess of tangled kikuyu and fallen branches. Everybody else was watered and trimmed to be a nice part of the garden. They took away his park bench.

Yesterday morning a hard hat was climbing up him with ropes and spurs; the undertaker measuring up before the execution. The trucks were waiting, loaded with chainsaws and a wood-chip machine.

They left with the last load of his ripped and hammered heart wood this evening. It took them two whole days to tear him to pieces.

I used to walk past and think of lonely, bitter, sad old men. In a few weeks new visitors will not know he was there. The rest of us will soon forget. Life should be more than this.

 


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