I drop off Lena at school at 5th and B and walk to the East Village’s heart, Tompkins Square Park, and walk to where Bendy lived for 130 years. She is the tree that bowed to the east horizontally, about a human head’s height from the ground before rising with her leaves waving in the wind. Through some bribe or something the beloved tree was chain-sawed last fall. The Parks Dept claimed falsely that she would fall on someone soon. But her branches were full of leaves, not a dead branch anywhere. In fact her bent jog in the air was her genius, her claim on our community self. Charlie Parker and Allen Ginsberg and other very odd greats lived nearby. Anyway, the only possible autopsy was the murder of Bendy, which they did, and sure enough she was not rotten inside at all.
When we got texts that they were felling her, Savitri said “We’ve got to stop them! ” and I jumped in a taxi that we can’t afford and a half hour later I was running to Bendy and tried stop the chain-saws with some arm-waving arboreal preaching. By noon is was sitting on a bench in our city jail, the Tombs.
Now this morning, six months later, I walk on the ground above her roots, they even dug out her stump. I hang out with Bendy twice a week, and I sense her roots spreading beneath the octagonal flagstones. It’s the beginning of my day, so I pray here, asking the blessing of peace-makers, talking to them about life and death and activism. I’m just another crazy in the village talking up at Bendy’s branches that are still there in the my memory and the memory of the trees around us and the hawks circling above. Today, though, I stopped in mid-prayer, and then I couldn't help it, I let out an "Earthalujah!" There was Bendy’s ear, the roots surfacing above the paving. Do you hear my prayer? Bendy, I knew you were listening.