KRISTIN SUTLIFF

DYING TREES

Half of her face shies away from an unknown worry, a gathering grief not far away. Her eyes turn over a decision as her uncertain lips pause before joining in a pose that reflects her troubled mind. The car, stalwart in its promise of freedom, rumbles to a start, belying its age in the put-put-put of its exhaust. White paint is marred by rust, just as her innocence is fragmented by shards of ancient aches. Dying trees breathe lingering puffs of saccharine sap in the stale, cold winter air. The promise of the trees’ return keeps the twinkle of hope alive in her brown, dusty eyes. Overflowing hair provides a perfect shield when needed, and the style (that of a naive, young woman) tells her tale. She wants to grow up. She wants to walk the steps to the car, touch the door handle and this time, only this time, really get in. The two rough coats she wears are her protection; she can do anything, and she will travel the world. Someday she may open those coats and let them see who she really is beneath the sewn, fabricated strands of cotton comfort. One day, with the filtering chorus of an old Springsteen song smiling to her in the darkest nights, she will get in that ugly car and drive away. Love will come to her and it will leave, but on her best days she will remember that there are those waiting to replace the engulfing but fleeting warmth of those coats with the lasting warmth of human (very human) arms.