Darkness. A warm blanket of nourishing soil retreats tentatively as her roots stretch. Heat beckons. The ache for a taste of that promised light draws her up, up, up. Into the unknown. A molting leaf flops on its side, making way for her outstretched yen. The radiance of the white world tingles her limbs, the pins and needles of a sleeping extremity meeting the duress of use with atrophied circulation. The pain of birth. The glorious content of stepping into true being, meaning.
The feast continues. Undisturbed growth. No curious crawlers, pecking perchers, trampling foreigners. Sabbath. Under a mystical, shaded canopy she is neither scorched nor neglected. No sooner does pulsing heat threaten to dry her feeble progress, than a cool fog kisses her cheeks. She abides in the mist. A haven that whispers of her beauty. Live. Grow. Be. Hope. Her names is Acokanthera Schimperi.
She greets new life as her reach extends over and under the earth. An underworld of silent, secret creatures, sacrificed for her nourishment. The white world sings, a complex cantata deepening as she moves over the red and black rocky hillside. She doesn't know hesitation, inhibition, doubt. Her cycle is her meditation. Sleep. Eat. Drink. Bathe. Stretch. Listen.
Each morning finds her farther from land. Her companions blur. Sorrow. Trepidation. Curiosity. Still, she cannot resist the call of the light. As soon as she begins to doubt her the necessity of her height, fauna visits for the first time. Never has the song been so near. A lullaby of affirmation. For this. She vows. For this Red and Yellow Barbet, she will grow her limbs long and high. A home. Another restful night. Despair put to sleep with the somber moon.
She wakes to a new light. Memories of that fierce morning when dawn first broke over her splash her face as she peers, unhindered into the sun. Glorious. Blinding. Assurance. This. For this, she was made and she grew. A new horizon. The desolate emptiness of red earth consumes the landscape. Only scattered remnants of lonely vitality interrupt the vast scene. Overwhelmed with sympathy, she reaches. She beckons the wind. No answer. She pulls at her roots. Nothing. In this quiet repose, she recognizes her own desolation.
Her vista hides behind a gray mountain, moving swiftly across the plain. Uncertainty. Terror. The tender refreshing of the morning has metamorphosed into a hateful pelting. She must drink. Choking. Trembling. Her shelter is gone. She peers down to her forgotten earth and remembers a happier time. She spies a sprout buttressed from the storm. Her doleful reverie halts. She is the shelter now. For this. She will endure.
Pain. A pang in her side. Then another. Tall creatures puncture her flesh, drawing her white blood. She prepares to scold these savages, when they begin to dance. The encircle her, lauding, shouting, thanking her for such a precious gift. They gather her fallen berries. She sighs as her growth nourishes them. Ah. For this. To give. To nurture. To feed. To satisfy.
Joyous revelation. Service. Limbs to support. Leaves to shelter. Fruit to nourish. Blood to please. Her voice arises strong and sure. She bends, letting the wind sway her. Whistling. Winnowing. Groaning. Creaking. Her song woos a Baglafecht Weaver. She offers her limb, her shade, her fruit. An eager eater samples with abandon. Faltering. Spinning. Falling. She tries to catch the sickly bird, to offer more sweet tastes to heal the famished creature. Collapse. Death. Another bird. Another berry. Death. She blames the summer sun and the absent rain. Another berry. Death.
Older now. Seasons of fruit push forth, fall and return again. A sacred graveyard laced at her feet. Another savage dance. A whistling dart. A tall one falls dying amidst the long since dead birds. Still. Pierced with a an arrow dripping white and red blood. Her blood. His blood. This. For this. She peers over her malicious flesh in shame. Her noxious berries. Her ruinous blood. Iniquitous. Injurious. Poisonous.
William Blake, The Poison Tree
And I water'd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I stunned it with my smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles