Barbara Rath writes prose poetry and fiction in the dark hours that surround full-time technical work. She's been published in the online journal, The Birds We Piled Loosely, is a member of Grub Street in Boston, Romance Writers of America, and the NH Writers’ Project (NHWP). Ms. Rath's writing journey is chronicled at http://barbararath.com.
The tree outside my bedroom window, my favorite tree, is straight and tall, with branches that throw a canopy of leaves over the grass below, protecting the soft blades from the worst of the rain and snow. But there is one place on the tree, small really, where an ax had taken a bite. It is just a slice, a tiny fissure. From it, the sap had flowed and dried, leaving an amber mess of bugs in its wake. And at the bottom, a sliver of black leg hangs suspended and I wonder: who left that behind?
Below the tree, my mother stands, arms crossed with cigarette dangling between her fingers, wrinkle-tanned face lifted to the sky, smoke streaming from pursed lips, past green leaves. Below the branches, my little brothers play war games while my sister sings softly to the doll she holds by its jet-black hair. And I watch from my window, black nails drying in the hot summer sun.
There was a time when I played beneath the safe canopy of the tree. Five children, duck-duck-goosing, and giggling as we all fall down. One parent, smiling behind smoke, amber-filled glass in hand. But the gap between my little siblings’ single-digit ages and my own double digits, is no longer bridged by my brother, my favorite brother, so straight and tall.
It was different tree that took my brother, when my mother crashed the car. The gash from the crushed metal split the tree wide open.
And still the amber liquid flows.
A Purposeful Life