Her roots reached down through the water into the dark, soft mud. It felt good to stretch and feel the coolness of the earth in the clinging tendrils that shot from her body. Though she enjoyed the company of the water’s other animals – the long, lean birds that would search for food between her roots, the shelled creatures that used her for shelter – more than all, she loved the sleek rocky lizard that preyed on smaller living things. Perhaps it was his cratered body that appealed to her, a rock that waited with large golden eyes. She was earth, and he was stone.
“He’ll never return your love,” said the soft creature with the hard shell. “He can only have happiness with his own kind.” But the tree stretched her roots farther yet into the flowing water, offering more in the hopes of greater return. But the craggy beast visited, neither more nor less, as he searched the cool water for his next meal or mate. Sometimes he waited in the shadow of her branches.
Her sisters crowded together along the shoreline, their roots mingling as they whispered to each other. They pulled away from her, though they themselves harbored similar creatures within their sheltered roots. None of them loved though, like she loved the dark brooding predator. His bellows sent shivers through her as her roots vibrated in the water.
Soon the lonely call of a water bird disturbed the stillness, and she remembered her loneliness. His company did not alleviate her solitude; it amplified it. It accentuated her inability to connect to him and to others of her kind. Her sisters presence did not console her.
The moon shone through her branches, dying them silver with its touch as she cast dark shadows on the water. The lizard took shelter in her presence, and she realized that the moonlight had changed him too. It changed the water, her sister trees, even the distant hills. How could she have been so blind?
Penetrated and penetrating, she breathed the air that blew through her branches and transformed it into oxygen, giving life to many creatures – including herself. The wind slowed as it rustled her leaves, carrying the sound far away into the evening stillness. All occurred beneath the lovely sky of this world, the celestial orb spinning slowly through space and time, giving shape to the universe.
How could she be alone? She was one with them all, as the drop was one with the river.
She stretched her roots down through the water into the dark, soft mud.