Two’s Company by Lana Clark

Lana is a recent Wild Writing MA graduate from the University of Essex, currently freelancing as a writer and prepping for her PhD.

There’s a tree I see every day, and only recently have I figured out that it’s an oak. I don’t know why it took me so long to acknowledge this as a fact. It occupies the space directly in front of my bedroom window, filling it almost completely. Now, in this stark close of winter, it is a dark figure against an otherwise bleak canvas.

Each morning, I wake up to it filling the frame of my window, its branches weaving in and out amongst one another like cracks. Its joints like gnarled knuckles, the skin rough and frayed. Often, I stand with my morning coffee clasped between palms just watching this tree, almost as though I expect it to get up and move in some way or another. Of course, it doesn’t, but I never tire of seeking out new details of my oak. One of the first things that struck me was how the trunk felt less singular and more of a plural. I have counted four pillars that conjoin together to make this oak, as though they once stood in a circle and joined hands, deciding that this was where they were meant to be, together. Around the base of the tree, the earth has built up into a mound where the roots wave and relax, never quite break the surface. Between two of these pillars is a small hollow, like an eye socket just large enough to place yourself inside of. It is too high for me to reach alone, but that has not stopped me reaching up and inside with fingers extended, reaching just far enough to feel the soft touch of moss and the prick of twigs that signifies the possibility of a nest of some sort. I have stood at all angles in my window, trying to peer inside, but to no avail. I have never seen a bird leave or enter this hollow. In fact, I cannot think of an occasion where I have ever noted a bird sitting on any part of it, not a single branch. It sits in utter loneliness, without another tree on the street to give it any company, without a flower underneath it to offer any colour. It stands alone, on a thick strip of worn grass between road and pavement, this tree outside my bedroom window.

Despite being a sad spectre in winter, in summer it shines. The leaves blossom into a spritely green that fills the glass of my window with such life. They transform into breathing stained glass, painting the off-white walls of my rooms with a green hue that shifts in short cycles with the day. I have begun to write about my oak tree. Just a few words here and there when they strike me. Words to plant in the ground that will grow into something more important in the future, maybe. I have seen that the tree grows, restores, rebuilds itself just as a person does throughout the year. I have seen that the oak hoards its shiny acorns in its boughs, keeping the possibility of itself close. I have seen the leaves lift in the breeze and be beaten down in a storm and fall as the seasons shift and change over and over as they so often do. And I have seen them grow back just as bright.

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