From little more than a stick in the ground, planted as if by whim, or as a spade left absent-mindedly behind at the end of a workday, this tree has grown over the past four years till it reached nearly the top of the house behind, arms reaching fervently upward, confident of touching heaven by-and-by, And yet the sap of aspiration has run dry at the extremities, the tree is found to be dying from the top down, its uppermost branches hollow, without brawn or blood, as bendy as rubber. Bravely yet, wed yet to its nature, the branches sprout from their tops little buds, little memories of the red flowers of the past, but these are as dry as whispers, more paper than pulp, and fade away in the midday sun, leaving the grey skin barren and disappointed, gazing on its tiptoes, with bitter envy, at the great green plume of the tree in the yard just beyond, bejeweled with bright yellow flowers. And so I set the saw today to those weary arms, cutting down the overly hopeful parts, now starved and dead; down to the lower, more reasonable regions that yet have substance, that yet communicate with the unbroken vitality of the root, that courageous, confident stick of old. It may be that the remainder will die as well. Or it may be that new hopes will flower anew and again seek the height of the sky.