He tore on and on, collapsing into a white ash whose crooked trunk kicked back abruptly, like an arthritic knee. He envied the ridged and scabrous armor (though there were scars, from the interrupted blows of woodpecker and woodsman’s ax) and the capacities to extend its fleshier limbs far from harm’s way. Yet in the dark once-green fraxinus leaves were falling, and crumbled to dust as he ran his fingers along their tender veins. The last boy to spend a night in the lap of this tree was also on the run. He was consumed by a fire in 1892.

–J. Michael Kilby

Michael Kilby is a Professor of Medicine, Division Chief, and AIDS researcher. He has a morbid addiction to stamp-collecting, movie matinees, and rock bands incorporating banjos.