“Tree,” an excerpt from the novel, “Witness Tree” by Donnie Boman





The tree had never felt at home. Even as a sapling. Always on the edge of a clearing. Not in the forest. Not even in the middle of a field like some wise, powerful tree, holding its own. In the middle. In the median. There was an either side – here or there – and the tree was neither here nor there. Paths on this side and that. A path for things that didn’t want to be in the forest, the clearing. And a path for things that did not want to be in the clearing. Each side did not want any part of or to be any part of the other.

The tree was on the edge. And the tree felt the edge. On edge. It didn’t prove well for constitution. Not quite jumpy, as it’s hard to be jumpy as a tree, certainly. But jumpish, perhaps.

Always a bit nervous and always feeling vulnerable and never comfortable in its place, the tree also had kind of a complex about its visibility. The forest was its backdrop in the eyes of the clearing. The clearing was the backdrop in the forest’s eyes. On this edge and under such pressure from being in the middle, the tree decided to not “side” with the forest, but it did not side with the clearing. It decided to do its own thing. Just witness. Sometimes rain. Sometimes darkness. Sometimes witnesses witnessing witnessing.



1) We could begin a discussion of “the other” – “social and/or psychological ways in which one group excludes or marginalizes another group. By declaring someone “Other,” persons tend to stress what makes them dissimilar from or opposite of another, and this carries over into the way they represent others, especially through stereotypical images.” – but we will not.

2) Feeling the edge also meant feeling the edge, or an edge. Roots have feelings, too, and between the forest and clearing was a powerful, affective force on the roots (and roots are part of the tree proper, not ephemeral addenda). (Note: There were good things on either side (“other”/”other” notwithstanding). It was the middle that, objectively, sucked.) There was a knife in the middle, a dull knife, constantly chop-chopping (*also see note 2a*) on the forest/clearing line of demarcation between the forest and the clearing so that trees couldn’t grow outside of or take root on the line and, alternately, so that the clearing could not encroach on the forest by brute force (clearings are kind of weak, physically speaking) (and encroaching using any spiritual/mental force was highly unlikely as the forest was pretty solid on its being a forest). Affective and effective.

Our poor tree dropped down just before the treaty was signed delineating this particular plot division in the ongoing, worldwide forest/clearing battle and was an unwilling, yet named (“Sprout 8417”) collateral party in the treaty. Okay, we should concede and say, rather than being unwilling as a little thing, perhaps, the tree would have been unwilling to be a part of this thing later in the manner originally laid out (obviously the future of this tree was not thought out, much less were its feelings considered). Really, the whole thing was unbeknownst to the as-sprouting little one and its ways of thinking had not been spoiled yet to believe that there was any such thing as divisions, battles, territorial and political disputes, et al., and it certainly did not know, nor could understand, that its own sprouting position would mark a major “X” point in any such a thing as a treaty. (If the signatories knew how tough it would be, to be on the edge, maybe they would have said, Hey, that other side of the tree is the line. Tree, our side. No tree, your side. Instead, the tree was in a not-quite-neutral zone, stuck in the middle, an actual marker. Hence, the root chop-chopping.)

2a) Re: Chop-chopping: The roots were full and awesome on the forest side. Roots were fair to poor on the clearing side, but better than on the line. (There they were quite thin and strung out and, well, chopped-looking, and a bit shredded by the dull force field blade – never healing or getting strong or taking root as roots like to do.

3) The tree didn’t feel that it was up to or fit for its role as the subject of Article 7, Paragraph 1 of the treaty, as a “marker.” It didn’t want to be a marker. To be a marker meant that something was to be expected. And the tree was never given a job description or an outline of its responsibilities. Besides, marker was another name for sucker. It didn’t even like “marks” (particularly, those little indicators of written language (“marking things up” (e.g. chalking them up)). The tree felt written forms of communication were stupid since, well, there was already verbal language/communication (and this line of thinking came from the fact that a treaty existed in perpetuity, marked down, for anyone to see; if perhaps, the treaty was merely oral, it could be forgotten one day; instead, the original drawn up details could be referred to by anyone at any time, thus creating or conjuring supposedly exact memories that may not really exist for the reader); and if outward, that is, verbal, communication was not good enough, surely one’s own memory should be enough (who ultimately cares what one individual is thinking anyway (especially with regard to other orders, much less other things that are ridiculously removed from trees)); it is one’s “own” history that should be remembered, and, if passed along at all, it should be done orally (history, or “his story,” is not and was never relevant to one’s own situation; all trees feel that one should make its own way in the world, and the best way to learn is not necessarily from others’ past mistakes but by their own (Special Note: What then is a witness tree good for anyway? And for whom?)). (Note re: Non-verbal communication: trees could think and project thoughts among their own family/genus/species, but not to trees outside of these sub-orders, hence, the need for a created verbal, i.e. outward, communication (which was an okay concept for our tree) (Sub-note: There have always been rumors of projected communications between various tree species or orders, but more importantly (especially to note in the case of our tree here), projections involving other kingdoms, yet only one-sided: tree projecting to amoeba, tree projecting to butterfly, to people.).) (A horrible thing for the tree, by being on the edge, it got a lot of love tap-tap-marks from sharpish knives carving initials and other people-marks over the years.)


Donnie Boman does the Ohio Edit Instagram.