By S M Chen, posted June 30 by D Kovacs

One winter day he felt it;
an ache (a hurt from wrongs
of long ago?) deep within
the substance of his pulp.
How long itʼd been there
he couldnʼt say. A day,
a week, or maybe longer.
Who knows when termites
in the quiet night
begin to gnaw?
But when they had him split
as for a sacrifice, they found
the founding of their fears.
They had to close him up
to face the worst of nature
on its terms.
So he went home,
knowing that the thing
inside him would not rest
till it had sapped him
dry; only then, would it,
like him, cease its labor.
The anorexia and the inability
to eat, the pain that bored
and bored, and wouldnʼt remit,
the weakness and the loss
of will (this most of all)
to live, to fight
the fight of one who knows
heʼs going to lose
(how do you make a fight
like that look good?) –
we saw him suffer these
and so much more,
yet were as helpless,
though less hopeless.
Through all of this
the one who suffered most
next to him was the one
who shared his ground.
She shed the tears
he could not shed
(but how he wept inside)
and smiled if he was able to
keep down a meal, or two.
Always by his side,
what little energy she had
flowed ever to him,
a flickering light
in his darkness.
We watched him wither,
leaves drop one by one
at first, then in clusters,
ever faster, and when,
roots rotted by the blight,
the trunk toppled and lay still
in final rest, we,
branches of that tree,
all died a little.


Sam Chen biopic

S M Chen lives and writes in California.