• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 04
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Bless me son, if I have sinned.

But is it a sin to stand up for something? Standing tall, standing here chained to the trees, not wanting them to be tables or chairs – or books even. Trees are more than that when they are living. Do you not see?

Don’t be mad. Not with me. Not with the one who gave you breath and heartbeats and breast. Stand a little further off and look away; then if you must look again, do so more softly.

Where’s the harm in what I do? I remember you on your first day of school, your fingers tight clenched around the bars of the school gate and you would not go in. I did not raise my hand or make a threat against what you were doing. I sat on the pavement and talked with you, all my quiet words. Told you all the wonders that awaited you in an education that would open your eyes to the world. Remember? And you let go your hold on the gates and asked me to take you inside.

‘It is just a tree,’ you say. ‘And if it does not fall today then tomorrow or the day after.’

I once thought you had an imagination. When you walked slow and sluggish, your legs lifted high as hurdling but wearing your father’s pit-boots that were too big for you. You said you were Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. And when you leaped up from the table and from your school homework crying ‘Eureka’ and you were Albert Einstein with his E = mc2. And once you sat on the back of the sofa as though you sat on a saddled horse and then you were Alexander the Great conquering the whole of the ancient world.



Have you forgotten all of that? This tree has stood here for longer than your father stood on this earth. Somewhere on its trunk he cut my name and his in a Gordion knot in a scored heart. We were children then and maybe the heart has closed and his name and my name have healed over. It is no matter, for it is the same tree.

And if what I say is a lie or a story I tell to prick your conscience or to touch something tender in you, then let it be enough.

Call to your colleagues with their police truncheons and their ‘Come along, madam,’ their arrest warrants, smirking behind the shields of their helmets. Call to them. Remind them they are all sons, too, and they have fathers and mothers that should be proud of who they are. Tell them, any one of us here might be a mother to any one of them. And mothers speak softly and speak sense – remind them of that.

Bless me son if what I do is wrong because it is against the law. But surely this is not a sin? My son, surely this is not.