The Urban Wilds

Outside near my office in the city, another tree just quit. 

When I arrived years ago, there was one dead tree. I remember thinking it looked odd amongst the healthy, manicured ones that lined the sidewalks within perfect squares of dirt.

The landscaping surprised and delighted me at first. It just makes me sad now.

The trees, whose roots grow in cramped knots under cement ceilings, stare at me while they whither. Their shuddering, struggling leaves almost say, “I could’ve been more. I could’ve been wild. I could’ve stretched my arms to the heavens.”

There are a handful of dead ones now, with many others showing signs of an untimely and ill-favored faceoff with mortality.

First they all grow weird, with thirsty leaves thrusting out all over branch and trunk alike. Shamelessly, their appearance grows as shaggy as neighboring (and, actually, well-pruned) bushes in the futile attempt to sip more sun from behind buildings that scrape the sky.

“I’m so sorry you cannot grow here,” I think.

The dead tree was no outlier. One by one, they fail to conform to their restrictions. And one by one, they martyr themselves trying to do so.

I don’t want to witness the last of these trees putting down its fight. Or be around when property owners’ budgets allow for an aesthetic improvement project to euthanize the final public eyesore.

“I’m so sorry,” I think again.

We, the wilds, cannot survive here.

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