14 June 2010


A painted turtle blinks, stands, and plops into the lazy murk of Curry Creek. “When I was a boy that tree touched the sky. Look at it now, lying there, can’t even tell it was a ponderosa. pffft.” Jacob’s hand indicates a broad log stretched across a colony of deadfall floating stuck, from the shore to turtle island.

“Jacob, it’s beautiful, why make a face like that?”

Jacob looks at her with that sense of calm running through his eyes that tells Justice he wants to listen to her ideas. She wishes she would learn to keep her mouth shut. Jacob has a way of making her spill her soul into words. Jacob is ancient—older than her grandfather. He raised her when a flood stole her folks. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Justice, tell me what you see.”

Justice starts slowly, “Not too long ago, Jacob, this tree touched the sky, beauty is its legacy.” Her eyes lose focus on the world in front of her as she continues, “When you were a boy, this ponderosa housed squirrels and bugs. Deer relieved itches on its bark, birds nestled in its branches, chittering chipmunks devoured its tiny pinecone seeds, and little boys? They looked up at this tree with wonder in their eyes, because this tree touched the sky.” Justice throws her head back and sweeps her hands overhead. Jacob’s eyes spark with life, and a smile plays its way about his mouth.

“See those branch stumps?” Justice points at spots where branches have broken off with time. Jacob nods. “Every one of them has moss growing around it. Moss is made of cells, Jacob, just like you. Just like me. Just like that dead ponderosa. It died, Jacob, but look at it now—it is greening over with life, Jacob!” They both grow quiet, as a turtle elder pulls itself to a basking site on the jam. “It’s not just the moss, but the turtles, too. This logjam slows down the creek. Imagine their home in the muck, Jacob, it’s dark, it's quiet, it’s safe. The ponderosa protects.” Justice falls silent when a breeze eddies up pine needles along the path, and swirls out over the creek making reeds dance circles.

She opens her hands over masses of grass poking up through the creek, and the logjam, where several turtles eye them, “Up here?  They sit in the sun on this old dead tree, worn smooth by water and time, this incredible dead ponderosa. Can you see it Jacob? How seamlessly woven it is?” She looks him in the eye. “The ponderosa is a gift, Jacob, a beautiful gift.”

“Beautiful? Yes. I see it now,” he answers smiling, “But a gift? No. You are the gift, Justice, you.” Jacob’s big hand ruffles the hair on her head as Justice wraps an arm round his waist, and nuzzles in the familiar scent of his buckskin coat.


Shout out to Writer's Island for this prompt:  The seventh official re-opening prompt is: THE GIFT… What is it that comes to mind when you think of the concept of a gift — given or received, large or small, personal or on a broader scale. Tell us in your words (poem, prose, flash fiction) the why, who, what, where, when, or how regarding the gift — whatever it is that moves you to write…

Shout out to the universe for turtles and ponderosas!

Click the Writer's Island link for more takes on this prompt.


flaubert said...

Brenda I love this so much!Wonderful work!Fantastic take on the prompt!
'a breeze eddies up pine needles along the path, and swirls out over the creek making reeds dance circles'

brenda w said...

Thank you Pamela. That's one of my favorite lines, too. :)

Mary said...

Brenda, what a touching story. It seems there are many different kinds of gifts. They are all around us if we look. Fine writing!

Elizabeth said...

Hi Brenda,love the story and it reminds me of a time period when synchronicity drew me to Montana several times. I like your take on the prompt, actually have really enjoyed reading through all of them. And welcome to Writer's Island. Hope to see lots more of you,


Diane T said...

Brenda, I enjoyed this a lot. It shows that life begets life. And perhaps one gift begets another. Beautiful writing.

brenda w said...

Mary, I agree. We can find gifts anywhere. That's what made this prompt so interesting. So many of our posts are positive this week.

Elizabeth, Montana is a grand place, I'm glad you made it here for a visit(my blog, and the state!). I look forward to our journey through words together.

Diane, Thank you for stopping by, and for commenting a big smile onto my face. :)

Systematic Weasel said...

This is a wonderful piece! It's a interesting way of putting the idea of gifts. Nice work, and thanks for commenting on my blog! It's greatly appreciated!


Dee Martin said...

cycles of life - beautiful. just beautiful!

Linda Goin said...

Oh stupid me. I thought this was a poem. It certainly read like one, Brenda. And, it read like a Native American myth, too -- only from the second generation "other." We are so quickly losing all those gifts, and leaving a horrid legacy to the ones who gift us most -- our children and grandchildren. Thank you for this gift.

brenda w said...

Hey Weasel--Love your site. I'll be back.

Dee- Yours is my favorite profile icon. I love it. Thank you for stopping by.

Linda--Maybe it is a poem. What do I know? I just write stuff. ha! Horrible legacy indeed. Look what today's children inherit from us. On and on the words can fall out. Positive pieces are sometimes harder to pull out in these dark times. (these dark times...ha!) But we need them.
Thanks for stopping by, your comment brightened my day. Glad to see you here.

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