Sunday, August 21, 2011
Eleven pine trees, resinous and fine, were left to live in the center of a strip mall parking lot. Shopping center planners surrounded them with a ring of concrete, creating a long island in the center of a sea of tarmac. In the nighttime quiet, when the only people out were the drunks smoking at the 24-hour Donut Delite, the trees whispered poetry to one another. One line at a time, they passed the short phrases from branch to branch. The sixth tree, named Volta, had a very crooked trunk. She leaned into the seventh tree, who disliked her controlling voice. During the day, the pines presided over people in their rush to get to the ATM machine, Foodtown, or the Suds-n-Duds. Filmy wrapper discards from a nearby McDonald's tumbleweeded onto the island, then rolled away on another breeze to skitter across the parking lot. The sun rose and set, the stars snapped their fingers of light, the traffic streamed in a time-lapse blur, and the trees continued to whisper unheard sonnets.