Where the Concrete Cracks
Trees ripping through concrete. Roots deep in the soul. Touching the land.
Energizing and feeding from sun, water, plants, animals, humans. But why is it so hard to notice the trees along my streets in Guatemala and Los Angeles? Because of the concrete. Grey covering up green. Grey swallowing up mossy bark and cutting down large trunks of glory. Construction replacing growth. Development replacing tending. Machinery replacing relationality. Isn’t this the curse of our world?
Obsessed with developing the land, half of my ancestors removed trees of old. They removed those men and women planted by streams of water who covered their children with shade while bullets and cannons cleared the land. All my ancestors saw was poorly used land, so they cut everything away. Chopped it down. Blew it up. And still, now, we do what needs to be done to give land to a proper(ty) owner who will develop it to make it bear fruit.
But what kind of fruit is this? It’s printed green fruit, and it’s rotten. It rots the land, the body, the soul. It rots the relation of love between mother and child. It rotted my soul and that of my ancestors for generations. Enchanted by rotten green, we have cut ourselves off from the family of trees, animals, and humans. Asserting ourselves over them we develop neighbourhoods, cities, and nations of concrete. Of profit. Of distance. But at what cost? Distant from family and hungry for profit, we chop down, cut down, shoot down. We forget how to tend, to grow, to relate. But not the trees. They continue to feed, breathe, and touch our spirit with theirs.
A friend said something that resonated as I noticed trees breaking up sidewalks: “Remember we live in their home. They have been here long before us and will stay long after we leave.” From generation to generation trees stand firm, growing old and strong. Offering shade. Ripping through concrete. Bearing fresh fruit. Breathing new life.
Frank Scoffield Nellessen is a Guatemalan mestizo immigrant learning to decolonize and heal himself and his communities. He works in gang prevention in Los Angeles, California.