Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oak Tree

The hum of bees fills the otherwise quiet cool air. They buzz softly around the trunk of an old oak tree where their hive is nestled in a crack that was made in a long forgotten lightning storm. Roots, long and gray, reach out through the carpet of prickly golden oak leaves creating small to mid sized nooks, spaces between the roots where the leaves are thicker.
The canopy of the tree spreads wide like an umbrella and drips to nearly touch the ground so that just a thin band of horizon is viewable between the dark green leaves that hang with resolve on the living branches and the yellow and brown leaves decomposing between the rising roots. Horizon is divided between strips of pale violet sky and the shimmering rolls of grassy hillside, glossy blond after a long dry summer.
A coyote moves smoothly over the hills, ears raised high, picking its way delicately through the rippling grasses with the grace of a ballet dancer. The sweet raspy cry of a hawk pierces the muted hum of the bees and soft rustle of grass, only now and then revealing its presence above the canopy with these cries.
Lying on the bed of leaves a man and woman clutch each other, their cheeks touching. The woman rests on top of the man and he rubs her back and thighs through her jeans and yellow T-shirt, kneading the flesh underneath like dough, his broad hands and strong pale fingers moving slowly and deliberately, almost tremblingly, as if the strength being exerted is only a fraction of what is available and great restraint is required to prevent his fingers from pressing through the flesh to grip her bones.
Her face is hidden against his cheek and neck and under hair the color of old straw that spills out over the ground beside them. She is very still and both bodies rise and fall gently with their synchronized breath.
His clear blue eyes look up from under bushy black brows, gazing at the canopy stretched over them like a ceiling of shivering leaves. Small brittle leaves from the ground cling to the sleeves of his blue and white flannel. His face is smooth and pale, his lips full and bright. His head, covered in a fine layer of dark stubble, rests on a pillow of rolled jackets.
The smell of oak and earth envelopes the place like a perfume and is stirred to freshness by the cooling breeze. Warmth from the heat of the day still lingers in the ground and in the bodies of the man and woman, and on their nearby backpacks, but the breeze carries the coolness of the violet sky and the promise of dusk.
The tiny bodies of the bees can be seen now and then looping their way towards the heart of the tree or venturing away beyond its shelter.
The woman sighs so quietly that it is barely perceptible, except to the man into whose ear her warm breath is expelled at his fingers' urgent request.

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