KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 1: Fall 2014
Haibun: 126 words

Umbellularia Californica

by Pat Tompkins

Towering over the field, a sapling when Jefferson was president, it grew to be one of California’s largest bay trees, with a massive canopy. One night, when wild turkeys, deer, and coyotes roam the park, the tree splits, a matter of age, not weather.

Hikers in bright shorts and T-shirts look like insects beside it. They speak quietly of this blow to a familiar acquaintance they never thanked for its shade and beauty and fragrance.

Clumps of roots—like Spanish moss—are exposed within the pale wood, slowly rotting, the way dying is tangled up with living. But the split is not fatal. Half of the tree lives on, a broken umbrella.

a gray stump
our picnic table
wood ears and morels

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