This tree has been dead for so long, you can see right through it in spots. How did that happen? I imagine the branches fell first, then the crown, and then the bark sloughed off like the skin of a snake, and then the core collapsed on itself. What’s left is a dynasty in decay, a suggestion of the strong column it once was, a gesture toward how the column once spun upward in helix fashion.
Still standing, even after the flooding rains of last summer, the tree’s roots must anchor it to something solid under the shifting leaf litter and sand. Limestone? What’s left of the tree has the pocked and scored look of the karst limestone around these parts. Maybe the tree has taken on some characteristics of the stone.
I’ve sat with this tree off and on for five years. Although I never knew it when it lived, even long dead, and even taking on other characteristics, it remains a tree.