On a fateful summer’s day,
While the other children played,
Young Anne walked down a street,
An adventure, she hoped to meet.
She strayed very far from the safe school yard,
And reached a corner house, that stood, charred;
A house that had no residents for a while,
A house that stood in its own style.
She heard not about this house from friends,
Though it had that air to which legend lends
A less than forgiving tale to enshroud:
A mystery that covers it like a cloud.
No one could tell who lived in there last,
Anne heard tales of some distant past
When families used to live gaily,
Long before patrols roamed by daily.
She was not allowed to be this far,
And knew soon would come a patrol car,
But still she wanted to see this place,
Even if the System would record her face.
She looked about then climbed over the fence,
And felt transported; she knew not whence
Came the sudden breeze that cooled her skin
Only that she had yet committed no sin.
She walked up to the porch and looked about,
Her mind now giving way to some doubts,
“Who lived here and why did they leave?
Was there someone, their loss to grieve?”
But her thoughts were broken in their tracks
As she looked into the house through the cracks
And saw something odd about the place after all:
There was no concrete to keep it standing tall!
Unlike the streets she had just walked down,
Where metal and cement houses stood around
There was no cement in this odd plot of land,
No wonder it’s empty! She started to understand.
All around the house was a dirty kind of dirt,
The stuff you’d spend hours washing out of your shirt;
The kind that was made illegal for people to own,
Although the reasons for this were not always known.
Anne looked at the dirt and was grateful right away,
That such a horrid thing was not often seen by day;
She wondered what made the house though: something brown,
It also looked as hard as the buildings all around.
Not wanting to waste more time where she was standing,
Anne walked round the side to find some branding;
It was a strange, coloured image drawn up on the side
The kind that children like her were asked to hide.
She paused to regard this image before her eyes,
That was just as it was drawn: no disguise!
An image of a child and some coloured archway:
Clearly someone allowed this artist to play!
Shocked to her core by this image and yet, still,
Anne walked on: her curiosity she now had to fill;
She stepped through the dirt not worried about cracks
In the ground, until at last she came to the back.
She saw much more of the dirt scattered all about,
And a gathering of it at the centre which made her doubt
That all was as it seemed to her city trained eyes,
She knew that something was off, spatial-wise!
She walked around the centre, around the pile of dirt,
And when she came round, she started and almost got hurt!
For now, standing in the backyard of this old house,
Was a young girl, who stood there; Anne knew not why or how!
“Hello there, friend! What brings you here?” asked she,
“I hope good will brought you here and here you’ll be!”
She seemed cheery enough and this in itself was quite strange,
For her cheeriness, to Anne, seemed off of the regular range!
“Who are you? And how long have you been here?”
Asked Anne, “Should I be prepared to be in fear?”
The girl scowled and then smiled again before talking,
“Oh I see! You stumbled upon my home while walking!”
“Your home?” Asked Anne, “You mean, you live here?”
“Of course I do!” Replied the girl with cheer,
“My name is Amber, and I lived here all my life,
That is, until- nevermind! I hate dwelling on strife!”
Anne regarded her cautiously and just stood still,
Wondering if Amber’s story involved any thrills.
Amber spoke up, “Have you met my friend Lee?
Lee is this huge, comforting oak you can see!”
Amber waved her hand at the centre of the yard,
Where Anne walked around and as Anne looked hard,
She could now see the outline of a massive thing,
With a brown body and green top; what an odd thing!
She couldn’t see it before because she had met none like Lee,
None of these large things that just seemed large pillars to be!
She took in the majesty of seeing this Lee,
And said, softly, “Wow” and “Good golly”.
Amber was thrilled at first then suddenly lost her smile,
“Why do you stare at him so? Why do you stare for a while?
Is he not like others of his kind? Others you may know?
Is he not like other trees you have seen grow?”
Anne said simply, “I’ve seen none like your friend Lee,
I have never met before, this thing you call a tree.”
Amber cried when she heard Anne say this line,
Amber fell to the ground and let out a whine.
Anne knew not what to say, or what she’d said wrong,
But she didn’t have to say anything, for long.
At last Amber got up and wiped off her tears,
And said, “I’m sorry, it’s just as I feared.”
Anne tried to offer her hand to comfort this girl,
Amber reached out; their hands, from different worlds,
Slipped through each other mid-air and they were shocked,
For only now came ideas, some ideas that were blocked.
Amber said softly, “My family loved trees,
The ground and all of Nature that we can see,
But when the human race grew older, it made a mistake,
A grave one! Indeed, the only one that one can make.
“It forgot that the Life that came before,
Was something to admire, worship and adore;
For they maintained the world in balance for long,
A balance humanity tried to mimic but always got wrong.
“It forgot its connection to the sacred around,
It refused to acknowledge the holy in dirty ground,
It saw other beings as lesser and weaker,
It recognised only voices of human speakers.
“And so when the time came for all of us to follow,
Some of us refused; this toxic lie we wouldn’t swallow.
So we were hunted and killed by the governments of old,
Until none of us would remain; that our stories be untold.
“I feared for my life and tied my fate to this tree,
That I may live on so long as lives my friend, Lee,
And over time, as people forgot how trees looked,
I survived, though my body to Lee remains hooked.
“Since people like you know not what trees were,
Lee remains hidden! I fear, however, for her:
Lee is amazing but could very well be,
The last one, the last standing tree!
“And when Lee goes, I guess I will go too,
I think I’m fine though, for I met you.”
Amber said with a smile and looked to her new friend,
A friend who knew not of worlds coming to an end!
“Why tell me all this, though? What do you gain?”
Asked Anne, rather confused, “Why relive so much pain?”
“Ah, yes, I guess what I needed to do,
Was to tell my story to you.
“Now you know that there was once a wondrous world,
That in splendour and absurdity unfurled,
And it was ugly at times and dirty as well,
But all of that made for heaven, not hell.”
“What can I do? How can I possibly help you?
And aren’t you afraid I’ll talk about you?”
Asked Anne, wondering how she fit in this scheme,
For it was starting to feel like a forbidden dream.
“Sadly, if you tell others about what you witnessed,
They would understand not- how could they? Don’t stress!
I do have a favour to ask of you, if that’s quite alright!
And only if it causes you no trouble- day or night!”
“I’m uncertain how I can help you, but I shall try,”
Said Anne. “Thanks, and I understand if you’ll wonder why,
But Lee needs to be watered, every once in a while,
To keep his leaves going and to keep us in top style!”
Amber moved to hug her new friend but instead bowed down,
Then walked back to Lee and climbed from the ground,
Until she reached a branch from which hung a rope,
At the end of which hung a body; Amber’s, Anne hoped!
Anne walked away from the house and back to the street,
At the corner of which, some patrol car she did meet.
They asked her where she’d been and how long she’d been away,
Anne just said she wasn’t feeling like playing baseball that day.
She was asked curtly to go back to the school yard
And as she did, she thought of Lee in the backyard
Standing as the last of his kind, all alone;
But in the mind of one young girl, he was known.