I could say that I recognized you when you were stately and towering. I could say that I remember your gracious shade and the time a hawk rested regally within your embrace. I might suggest that the song of the wind was most especially lovely when it played on your leaves, and the late sun’s caress painted your bark with more loving care than it caressed all the others. I could say that your proud carriage was the standard for all the others in my woods. But this praise would be more charitable than true, because I rushed past you most days and forgot you were there. You were so far away and my world was so close to the ground. You were hidden by two holly trees that sheltered the birds that I fed each winter, and you grew on the edge of the hillside just as it fell away into the weedy and thorny woods. All that camouflage allowed me to forget you.
Last fall you exhaled with a deep and stunning sigh, and your collapse to the earth, as you leaned for the first and last time, shook my heart. It was in the dark of night that you tossed your final good-bye. I was frightened by the seriousness of your death, and even though I could see nothing through the scream of the dark night wind, I knew a hundred years had passed in that moment.
There is more space for the sun to play upon the ground these days. But even so, the sun caresses the shadows of your trunk as it makes its passage down the river toward the night. In some strange way you may be lovelier in death. You lie languorous and liquid as if you were part of some gray river reaching on an unconcerned journey to nowhere.