the Cleaving of a Moreton Bay Fig Tree at UWA

She, I think I can call her that, had seen the Great Depression pass, and
like a cyclone witnessed by a child didn’t understand its significance until she was much older, noticing how bitter people had become. People; dropping cigarette butts, throwing empty Coke cans and candy wrappers at her feet, rarely stopping to say, “Hello.”
A cyclone of their own making. But, really, what did she care? She had grown off the blood, bone, leather and fat of a dead cow, though she never stunk the worse for it. As the cow bloated, exploded then caved in beneath her feet the soil and her roots found
new spaces to expand and fill in. She had her ways of taking what she needed and leaving the rest to the earth, the worms, the ants and the sandgropers. Once, when her branches rose only the length of a body above a human, a woman ran up to man waiting beside
her trunk and said, “Finally, I found you!” And she heard him reply, “Well, I’ve worked out if you stay in one spot long enough you will always be found.” She took that as her motto:
“Invenitur autem in uno loco manere.” After
all, she did live near the Arts Faculty of a university which taught the Classics. Eighty-six years she had been in this spot. Eighty-six years of watching students spin in circles trying to find the Arts faculty or Hackett Hall or the library or the bookstore,
which had moved more times than she cared to remember. In the past they used their eyes, or a map to find their way, cheeks flushed like jam, now their faces are blue as they stare at screens and seem to be more lost than ever. Occasionally, the blue-faced
ones snap a photo beside her before they leave, usually after they’ve paused to scrape her pithy fruit off their shoes. Her favourite thing is the wedding parties who stop beside her to bask in her canopy, for what is a better reminder of love than her curtain
of open arms? She can almost forgive the humans their littering for that adoration alone. Sometimes, she thinks if she were to ever split apart and cleave under her own weight, the crack of her branches and smell of her sap filling the air like a mistimed
party cracker, then she’d like people to know that her love of this spot she has inhabited, in the centre of things, was the best thing – besides learning Latin, greeting wedding parties, and getting her sticky fruit on the bottom of every shoe that passed
– the best thing that ever happened to her.

Natalie D-Napoleon

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