This article is taken from Stand 233, 20(1) May - July 2022.

Airana Ngarewa A Barren Tree Shaking
Ash and I made our way down an undecorated hill and along the guiding path. In a strange way, I have always felt connected to the guiding path; we shared a sort of kinship – both being shaped by the wrath of the old man. When I was young and Ash was but a babe, my father spent countless hours outside in the heat carving this godforsaken track from a rural highway to the far-away house. With boot and spade and shovel and all his might, he hacked at the earth’s crust and lay this dirt thing a full mile long. The path had changed recently, its dark border bleeding into the green, no longer running smooth or straight. Neglect and nature had taken their toll, each robbing it of its integrity. For this, I suppose I felt an even closer connection to my father’s path.

A barren tree shook unchanged in the breeze. It showed no remorse for its missing fruit or the leaves lost to the wind. The barren tree appeared to welcome this new fate, even call for it, night after night after night bathing in the darkness and twisting into something almost unrecognizable. It stood tall and proud, quietly fading into nothingness. I did not mourn its passing. The mound had long left us.

‘Little one,’ I said, ‘I believe we should give Pa to the earth.’

He nodded.

‘Then,’ I went on, ‘what better place to bury him than beneath the barren tree, the one that watched us grow, the one Ma ...
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