Acute Oak Decline
BY CHARLOTTE HEATHER.
If you work with a material for long enough your hand – or hands – will become one with it. If you are a seamstress your sinews will become taut thread. If you are a potter the pads of your feet and hands will become damp wads of clay. If you are a welder your calluses will fuse with iron. If you are a carpenter your nails will become gnarled wood, your knuckles will seize into knots.
Your hard fingertips will crack and splinter with age and the trunks of your legs will become covered in fine moss. You will lose most of your leaves. Your toenails will be antique varnished maple full of dents from wear and tear. Your shade will have provided comfort for the young, the lost and the lonely, you would hope.
But it is late in the day now. Trees suffer disease.
Acute oak decline.
Chalara dieback of ash.
Dothistroma needle blight.
Dutch elm disease.
Horse chestnut bleeding canker.
Massaria disease of plane trees.
Your lungs are a series of fine roots tangled together but they are going to dry out. Become kindling. Burn up.
If you work with a material for long enough your hand will become one with it, you will end with it. You will regret nothing, you hope.
Charlotte Heather is a writer and co-founder of Rita Munus; a writing and art based workshop. With Rita Munus she has taught at galleries, community projects and artistic centres across London and Mexico City. Her work has appeared in On Paper, Corda Magazine, The Bohemoth and Hotel. Her pamphlet of queer speculative fiction is forthcoming with Koroula SF and her debut novella was published by The Pigeonhole in 2015. She's working on a novel concerning bodies and gender alongside teaching creative writing to adults. You can keep up with her on Instagram @lottyyyy.