Within My Sight
by Patricia Abbott
Isaiah hadn’t wanted to plant a tree. “Good farmland doesn’t want a tree,” he’d told Sarah the day they moved to Wisconsin Territory from Chicago. He wasn’t a farmer yet but someone had told him this: that land not used for crops was wasted land.
“But I need a tree to look at from the kitchen window,” Sarah told him, the new baby drowsing on her shoulder.
So he planted a tree and it was all that stood between them and their crops. And Sarah watched it grow, watched it shade the bit of the earth beneath it.
“That damned tree,” Isaiah said more than once as the tree grew. “It gets in the way of my planting and plowing. That dumb mule heads right for it, thinking he’ll stand in a bit of shade.”
But he wasn’t scolding her. He liked watching his son and then daughters play beneath it. He liked watching the snow catch on its branches. He liked hanging eggs from it in the spring and a swing in summer.
And, as time passed, it was often Isaiah who slept beneath it.
He never thought to plant another tree and Sarah didn’t ask. Once the children were grown, once the fields began to shrink as they sold off more land, once they seldom left the house, they hardly noticed it.
Until the day it was Sarah lying beneath the tree. It was as if she’d picked her final place herself.