By Anja Marais

I was born from the flesh of a tree, my skin torn from bark, my veins filled with sap. I was hiding in my Mother’s shade, always listening to the rustle of her leaves. The ocean washed over our roots, the foam tickled my toes. When a storm eventually rose from the ocean and strained her branches she begged me to go. I obeyed, shaking the sea creatures from my legs. I uncurled my roots from the spiny rocks. I saw her body taken by the unforgiving sea; tumbling graciously she slid away in a cloak of water.

The cruelty of the ocean pushed me inland.  I searched for new kindness and warmth to rest my now frail and parched roots. The brooks were dry, the bushes filled with thorns and the rocks spit heat back up at the sun. With indifference they grazed my skin and tore my flesh. I lay in a barren enclave; my roots nothing more than knobby warts and my sap now running thick and dark through brittle veins. With every slow pump of my heart my veins shuddered like a shy dance on the beat of a faint drum. It flowed slowly and built into a crescendo. I could see the drummer sitting cross-legged while her pale hands bounced off the tightly stretched animal hide. As she kept the rhythm, the veins in her hands swayed like branches in the wind and swam up her arms like deltas into an ocean. In them I could see the outline of my Mother and every Mother before her. They were tightly crocheted in an intricate mesh of red all the way into my own vascular. A warm pulsating stream murmured repeatedly in unison: “….life, this is eternal life.”

My cracked feet started moving again, following this innate map of voices and patterns until I found myself back on a long forgotten shore. It was low tide and the ocean spit out furballs of debris and remnants of what once was. Among these were lengths of driftwood with smooth bodies buffed by a long journey in turgid waters. I picked a particularly gnarled but monumental trunk that lay on its side as if were a reclining Buddha contemplating life. The sand was warm and the ocean playful.

It is here that I am standing today with my daughter saplings sheltered at my base, while I peer into the firmament awaiting the next unavoidable coming storm.