Trees believe in reincarnation. After they die, they lumber back into our lives as boards, books, and toothpicks.
Trees spend their lives holding out their hands to birds, calling them to perch or rest. In their second lives, trees come back as chairs, inviting us to sit down, offering an arm to grip, attending to our conversations without remark, and sharing in our silences. At night, we nest in tree-made beds, hatching dreams like eggs.
In their first lives, trees provide banquets for the birds: beetles, ants, and caterpillars. When they return as tables, we flock to them and find the food and wine that fill the house with love and laughter. And we keep their perfect splinters in a jar to pick our teeth.
Some trees become the bones of houses, use their strength to keep the roof over the heads of all who have forgotten them. Others are the doors of daily life, sliding, slamming, creaking, opening, shutting us in and out. They make a place of quiet for one and provide the lock that opens love for two. So many secrets hinge on them.
Trees write the world’s story on their leaves. In fall they send the pages down, though few will stoop to read them. They tell the tale every year as if it were the first time. Coming back as books, they do the same, waiting on the shelves, leaves and leaves of stories falling into minds who stop to read them. And every telling new.
Trees who spend their lives trying to catch clouds come back as poles to hold the wires words squeeze through. A hundred years ago or more, people spoke with patterned sound, tapping news of wars, births, deaths, and regrets, like birds tapping on the bark of trees.
When taps and codes were not enough and people phoned their voices, the wires sang and hummed with promises and lies, rang with jokes, the murmured shame, or disconnected lovers; a goodbye click, the end of every story.
These unleaved trees with straightened arms, stand without a whisper, yet call out to the birds, who return, like acrobats with wings, to balance on their wires. In that other life, when poles were trees, they learned the art of listening from crows complaining of the rain and winds whispering of angry clouds to come.
Fewer voices travel on the wires now, but these poled trees do not complain. They shoulder power to brightens our lives as they once carried the luster of sun on their shimmering leaves.
When trees return a second time, they hold us, shelter us, offer us a place to lay our heads, bear the words that tell our stories, give us room to live, shut out the world of noise, and listen, always listen. When trees come back, they yield to our sharpness and our desire to measure and control. In the quiet, when we leave the room, they dream of rain, wind, and bird song; each tear falling softly as a feather on snow, lost by a winter bird in flight.