“When Men Came” was published in the college mag Writ in Water in 2018. Enough time has passed that rights to the story have reverted back to me. Since the publication was only distributed on the Houston Baptist University campus, I thought I would share the story here to the internet. Spoilers: The narrative is about an oak tree in the Middle Ages.
When men came, they scratched against my brothers, kicking up a dust of innards, until I was surrounded by stumps. Then men removed the stumps.
I waited for the cutters to strike my knees but men must have feared the look of me. My gray shoulders, my nine arms, my armaments of acorn.
They burned the land.
I smelled the screams of grass—that fragrant wetness—before smoke. The fires ran up the bowl of the valley, and behind it men with long poles turned over char and removed the stones. If it reached me, the fire would burn across my flank, mutilate my face, but not kill me.
The fires stopped before the crest, and I was spared.