The tall oak was split in two last night. Has burn marks on it this morning. Limbs lay in the street. The rest stands like a torched monument. An abstract statue with a deeper meaning. Bark and chips of wood are being swept up by men in uniforms. Chainsaws are buzzing. Soon it’ll just be a hump. A memory.
That tree was over a hundred years old they said. Over time his family had watched it grow. His grand parents and parents looked on as it reached towards the Midwest sky. Storms had come and gone, but, it had withstood the test of time. It made it through tornadoes, blizzards, high winds. It was a survivor. The oak stood as a symbol for his family. And now, just like his family, he was the only one left.
The old man stood in the window last night when the tree went down. He saw the lightning hit it. Heard the crackle. Saw the smoke in the early evening hours. It was a white smoke. A holy smoke. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
It was the same feeling he had when he saw his grandpa laying in the casket when he was just a kid. He’d made it to a hundred too. Survived the great war. Sitting in a trench. Killing rats as they scurried along. Eating them for supper. Praying for the gunfire to stop. Digging graves for dead Americans with more shots being fired. Never a moment of peace.
Cancer got him and his pop. Dad fought in World War II. Marched through Northern Africa and into France. Saw the ruins of war. Buildings destroyed. Famine. Bodies piled high. He told his son, Some day you’ll see it too. Some day. Wars will never end.
And, he was right. The old man served in Vietnam when he was just a kid. He was a Marine. Pop gave him a Bowie knife before he left. He didn’t come back with it. Now he’s got cancer too. He’s had it for awhile. It just keeps on lingering, festering inside his lungs. Some say it was the agent orange that did it to him. Others say it’s the two pack a day habit he’s got going for over fifty years. Doctor says he’ll be dead soon. Gone from this life.
The tall oak was split in two last night. Now it’s just dust.