Thursday, August 15, 2013

From the Empirical Archives: Trees by Sayuri Yamada

Sayuri Yamada
Originally published in the February 2013 issue of Empirical

Somebody is coming at last.

It has been a long time. Who is it? Is it a man or a woman? Young or old? It is still too far to see it clearly. The trees have been hungry for people. They have been alone for a long time, because of the incessant rain. How long has it been? A week? Ten days? A month? They aren’t sure. Time passes without touching the trees.

They stand there without consciousness.

A week ago or two, a girl carrying a blue umbrella with a dog came in through the gate. The sodden dog with the water dripping from its long fur trudged after her, with its head down. When she’d walked to almost the center, she slipped and fell into a puddle, splashing muddy water into the moisture-heavy air. She shrieked.

The dog whined. They soon left the park.

Two days ago or three, the rain stopped for a while. The sun shyly peeked from the grey clouds. A mother with a baby on a pushchair came in and went to a bench by the gate. She jumped up as soon as she sat there. The bench must’ve been still wet. She wiped the bottom of her skirt and left. The rain started again soon after that. It has been good for the trees and underbrush. 

The birch tree leaves shine with the water.

They have been growing so much. The pass from a clearing to a clearing has been almost disappeared, covered with the long boisterous leaves. But nobody has come. The leaves are curled with sorrow. Their barks have splintered with misery. The dead leaves on the ground are rotting with loneliness.

The person who is coming now is whistling with his/her hands in the trousers pockets. S/he kicks a pebble on the ground along with some dead leaves. S/he must be relaxed with no worries.

It is good. The leaves on the trees shiver with anticipation. A person is coming, a person is coming. The information has spread rapidly from a tree to a tree through the leaves.

It is a man, the trees can see now. He has short black hair and pale skin, medium height, medium weight. He stops now. What is happening? Is he going to change his mind? No. He is smiling to himself. He must be remembering something good. He is a happy person. It is a good sign. A grey pigeon flies above him and drops its poo onto his shoulder. He jumps and looks up, cursing to the bird that has already flown away. 

Does he have a temper? In that situation, anybody could curse. Don’t worry. He is a nice person. He produces a white handkerchief from his trousers pocket and wipes the mess on his shoulder, and then sniffs the handkerchief and winces a little. Not many people carry handkerchiefs nowadays, as far as the trees can see. He must be a neat person. His room could be tidy, all books arranged alphabetically, all shirts stacked by colors, all dishes in drawers, the kitchen sink gleaming. Or he is neat outside and messy inside: dirty dishes stuck in the sink, empty take-away food packages piled on the coffee table in the living room, old newspapers strewn everywhere on the floor, an unmade bed, dirty socks dangling from a chair. Which one is he? He is coming near. He must be long-sighted, since his black-framed glasses show big eyes as if they were about to tumble out of their sockets. His t-shirt says, ‘Just Do It!’ Is that what he does or what he wants to do? His blue jeans have sharp creases. Not many people wear creased jeans. Is he old-fashioned? Or is he strange?

He is now almost under the trees. He stops again and looks around. Nobody else is around. The park is deserted except for a lone dog sauntering by the gate far away. The man trots into the trees, looks around, and goes behind a thick pine tree. And he starts peeing there. That is what he has come here for. His penis isn’t circumcised. He pees for a long time, sighing, ‘Ahhh.’ Then he zips up and walks away. Lucky pine tree. It’s got bonus nutrition.


The next day, the sun is smiling in the blue sky again. No trace of black rainloaded clouds. It is good. The trees have had enough water from the long rain to keep going for a while. Two squirrels chase each other from this branch to that branch.

They are always busy running. But they don’t do anything else. Boring. 

The trees prefer people, who do all sorts of things.

Who is coming today, if anybody comes? Of course, somebody will come. The rain is gone.

A middle-aged man comes through the gate, carrying a skateboard under his arm. He puts it down on the paved path and starts riding, or rather practicing. He is clumsy, must still be a beginner. The trees haven’t seen many middle-aged people riding skateboards. He rides for a minute slowly and stops. Then rides again for a short time and stops. He should try to keep riding longer, the trees think.

Behind the man, a family comes in: a fat father pushing a push chair with a big bag of McDonald’s in his right hand and jingling keys or something in his left hand, and a fat mother with a fat toddler in her arms. The toddler is fingering a dreamcatcher at the end of a leather necklace on her mother’s huge breasts. They are all in tracksuits.

Those clothes with stretching waists are for fat people, the trees know from watching many kinds of people.

They come in the trees and sit on the small clearing with the thick pine standing beside it. Lucky pine. Its position attracts many people.

The mother puts the toddler down by the pine, where the man with creased jeans peed yesterday. The toddler is a girl with very long hair, that drapes onto the dark soil, where the man’s pee soaked happily yesterday. Lucky girl. She will get good nutrition and get big like her parents.

Not many small people have hair that long. She must have kept her hair without cutting it since she was born. She laughs, punching the pee-soaked soil with her chubby hands. The mother and the father laugh with their daughter. The father gets out hamburgers, fries, pies, muffins, and cups of coke and puts them on the ground. The trees know people usually spread a blanket on the ground and then put their food on it. But this family doesn’t bother to use one. They must be relaxed people. That could be why they are big. They must have eaten whatever they wanted.

The trees like happy and relaxed people.

The mother gives a couple of fries to her daughter, who eats one and drops the other. She looks at her mother with big eyes, ready to wail. The mother hurriedly picks it up from the pee-soaked soil and blows the dirt away and gives it back to her daughter. She eats it with a big smile on her face. The parents smile as well.

They keep eating. The father licks ketchup from his fingers. The mother licks mustard from around her lips. They keep feeding their daughter. They keep talking. The father’s voice goes among the trees. The mother’s voice goes to the sky. They keep feeding their toddler. 

They keep laughing. The father’s big stomach wobbles. The mothers big breasts sway. They keep giving food to their child. Before they have finished all the food, the toddler vomits by her chubby legs. She looks up at her mother. She looks up at her father. Then she starts crying with a big open mouth that still has some half-digested food from her stomach.

The mother hoists her to her chest. The father pats her heaving back. Then they pack everything into the big McDonald’s bag, put the daughter into the push chair and walk away, leaving the vomit on the ground by the lucky pine.

They are a happy family.

The trees look at them with glee.

The sun is shining. The air is warm. The birds are chatting.

It is a nice day.


The dew on the trees’ leaves and undergrowth sparkles in the next morning.

By lunch time, the park is full of people, lying on the grass, sitting with their hands on the ground, sitting on benches. The sun shines on the unwinding people.

An ice-cream van comes in and parks by the gate. A man in a yellow t-shirt hops out and starts connecting a couple of cables to a green box on the ground. People start queuing there. The man doesn’t pay any attention to them. Now he is moving some boxes in the van. Two people leave from the line. Three people join the queue.

At last, he is ready. The two women at the front of the line order soft cones and argue about who will pay. Both try to pay for the other. The next one is a man with a black briefcase, who buys a tub of chocolate ice cream. He sits on a bench and puts the briefcase on his lap as a temporary table. He then produces a sheet of paper from his trousers pocket and starts reading it and eating the ice cream on the make-shift table. The next is a woman in a pink sari.

She gets two soft cones and carries them to her friend sitting on the lawn.

The ice-cream business is going very well today.

A young couple with soft cones with chocolate sticks poking out from the top come to the clearing and sit where the happy toddler vomited yesterday. The woman has a pink sleeveless shirt with green bra straps on her shoulders. The man is in a dark t-shirt that used to be black.

The trees now believe that people can smell the good nutrition, so they keep sitting there to absorb it. Good for them.

The young man licks his girl’s soft cone.

The young woman eats a part of her man’s soft cone. He pats his cone to her face. She shrieks and does the same to the man’s face. He licks the ice cream on her face. She does the same to his face. Then start kissing. The soft cones are abandoned on the ground by the pine. Lucky pine. More food. They lie down with their legs intertwining like tree branches. They pant, not like trees. They gasp, not like trees. He gets on her and starts moving fast. She starts crying out in her mouth that is cupped by his hand. They move together. Good harmony.

With a shrill high-pitched cry at the same time, they stop. He gets off her and lies next to her with his still biggish penis gleaming with semen.

The trees have watched their joyful pollination.

They wish them copious reproduction.

When they leave, leaning against each other, a little semen is left on top of the girls’ vomit by the pine. How lucky the pine is! They silently cheer the tree’s fortune.


At night, two people, a man and a woman, come, carrying a big sack and shovels. They start digging a hole by the pine. The man’s pee, the girl’s vomit, and the man’s semen are put aside. They keep digging. It looks they need a big and deep hole. The trees hope they won’t damage the pine’s roots.

White stars are in their positions. The full moon peeks out from the clouds. The moonlight greets the sack by the digging people. It has some dark stains about the middle and from the top a foot salutes back to the moon. The foot is big and pale even in the dark, with a long second toe that is the same length as the big toe.

The man’s forehead drops his sweat into the hole. The woman’s cheeks let her sweat fall down into the hole. Lucky pine. It’s got more nutrition.

Somewhere deep in the trees, an insomniac pigeon coos. A candy froth moon comes out from behind dark clouds. The wide-awake pigeon blinks its eyes.

Finally, the hole is done. The man and woman push the sack into the hole, with their hands thrusting the bag, their legs kicking the soil, and their bottoms high.

The sack goes down into the hollow with a thud. The couple draw breath. The pigeon stops blinking. 


The fuzzy moon scurries behind the clouds.

Big sighs from the people. Blinking from the pigeon.

They start filling up the hole with the black soil with pee, vomit, semen, and sweat.

With the ground smoothed out, they leave the dark trees without looking back. The trees know what is in the sack from the smell. Lucky, lucky pine. And lucky, lucky trees around it. That big nourishment is going to be sucked into many trees there.

Lucky, lucky trees. It is a very good night.

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