He stands in front of the tree. She is on her side. Fallen, like those in Flanders field after the war waged through. The analogy is not gratuitous: the year the photo was taken was not long after the Great War, the war to end all wars. But wars never end?
The tree, a cedar, by the way her inner being is hollowed out, is a causality of war. Back then civilization demanded growth, and trees were not only in the way but they were needed to fuel this unlimited demand. Collateral damage? Only in polite company.
The man in the picture is my grandfather. He logged up in Theodosia Inlet in the 1920s when the area was ripe with old growth forests: cedar, fir; hemlock. I never met this man. He died when I was three. What I mean to say is that while I lived with this man, I never got to know him, his mind long gone with dementia by the time I was born. His brain cells went to war with each other, or something like that—war never does, never did, make sense.
The dead—trees, humans—does it matter? were loaded onto trucks, grand trucks these were, one tree per flatbed, one corpse per stretcher. In the picture she is at least two metres in diameter; she monopolizes the truck as would a soldier in full combat gear and taken away. The wounded remain.
The wounded: children, seedlings of a lost generation. How is it for those left behind when the soldiers are gone? What lives can be lived when they stand, alone now, scarred from tow lines and axes; lingering mustard gas and land mines; diesel spills; polluted waterways;depleted uranium; burned out buildings; loss of limbs, security and home,
No one to teach them, to shield and protect from the cold winter winds; to guide their roots deep into the ground and to instill with them a knowledge of what to remember and what to let go.
The wounded remain ... how do they stand?