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What Those Trees Have Seen

I know you.

Your names and stories are lost to the history books; collected as a member of the fifty who died here, marked under the shadow of the cross. Every day, strangers pay you visit and tread above the ground in which you lie. The same ground you laid upon in your final hours, you now sleep beneath. In the foreign land you fought and died for, you became a part of its earth. They’re the foreigners now, separated by time. How the world has changed around you, how history has been rewritten. But you haven’t changed – you never change.

I’ve changed. I grew tall and fierce and proud; my arms stretched towards the sky. I had children, and gave this field new life. I swathed you in greens and browns, and my sisters, carried on the wind, bathed your feet in orange and cinnamon. Do you recognize it?

My needles now are gray, and the top of my crown is receding. I am beginning to hunch; I creak and groan when the cold bay wind flows inland. I’ve developed patches on my skin. You may not believe it, but I too will die someday. It won’t be long now, I think.

Until then, I’m still here, watching over you.

I know you.

You are young, like me. You are bursting with hopes and dreams, of people and places still unseen. Your limbs are strong and slender, imbued with vigor, and still growing. Oh, we have so much growing up to do.

What is Paris? I don’t understand, but you speak it often. Your voices travel across this great empty, all the way to the big house on the other side of the river. I feel your joy, your anger, your disquiet energy. You love, you laugh, you cry. You live.

I am glad you are here. It was lonely before you.

Thunder shakes the ground and makes us tremble. You hear their screams, their final hours, the last sounds they ever utter, and you cling to me. I have little to offer; little shade to hide you in. They fight, but you don’t know why, for I cannot tell you.

You leave, and I wonder where you’ve gone. When I see you again, you are scared. The battle is won, but not for you. They don’t know who you are, but it’s okay…because I know you.

One by one, you gather beneath my anchor. You fall silent, but your words are etched within me. I watch over you, and in time, history repeats itself. The earth trembles again, and I am the keeper of last words.

But you remain here with me.

I know you.

You are old, like me.

Listen.

Can you hear it? The cannons, tearing through the silence? Honoring the dead?

They found your name. They say they know you.

But what is a name? I know not names but feelings; the sounds, the touch, the breath of memory.

Names can be forgotten.

I know you.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Historical Fiction, Poetry

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