We used to talk about your bonsai. They were young trees, and we’d talk about your dreams of what they would be. They were growing things — they had their own constraints and wants and needs even while you guided and shaped them. Yours was the mutual growth and shaping of an aesthetic.

bonsai waiting to be repotted

unsplash-logoDavid Martin

You told me these things in the tiny bamboo grove you were growing in your garden. We would sit and talk, your husband inside giving us space.

When you died, I knew that I would never be able to grow your bonsai and finish your hopes — we have so little time.

I’ve had so many hobbies throughout my life. So many interest that come and go and that for a time I work on. I began sculpting.

At first my models were crude caricatures, ugly, but over the months they improved. I sculpted a tree in a pot, a bonsai. It stood, roots exposed, on a rocky outcrop overlooking a pond. The tree still lived and flowered, but a branch had been lightning blasted, was the light grey death of unfulfilled futures.

Bamboo grew behind the tree.

It was not beautiful. Our bonsai would not have looked like this — it would have been its own thing, not entirely how either you nor I wanted, but with luck and work, still vibrant and healthy. Yet we have so little time, and nothing lasts forever.

I left it on your headstone.