I had my cider, warmed in a thermos and rich with just the right amount of milk and spices. My sketchbook, and my pencils that smear silver-black in just the right places, and only when I want them to. And my journal, leather-backed and beaten, filled near to bursting with Sylvia Plath poems and my poems, too - quivering shadows next to hers, but still. They're mine.

There's a place where the fence-posts had fallen away from their rusty nails, leaving a gap just wide enough for me and my backpack to squeeze through. Once on the other side I stood straighter and made my way to the secret tree that sang in leaf-wind whispers to my friend and I, the first time we visited. The branches were low, covered in Spanish moss, and the ground beneath was warm dirt dappled in sunlight and shadow. The perfect place for writing, drawing, thinking.

I turned the corner and parted the strands of tree-silk (that's what we called moss, my friend and I).

A bird. A dead crow, lying brokenly against the protruding root of my tree.

And I knew that I couldn't come here, anymore. Birds weren't supposed to die here...it was special. Sacred. It was my place, not anybody else's, not any bird's place to profane with Death and darkness. Those were things I didn't want, in those days of cotton-candy clouds and imagined maturity. Didn't want them - not to think or dream or write about things like a dead crow sprawled crookedly in the dust.

But I couldn't just leave it there...so I picked some weed-flowers, dandelions and clover, and threw them sullenly at the iridescent corpse. And when I left, backtracking, I thought I heard the tree crying.

Whether for the bird, or for me...I don't know.

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