If I sit here, tightly enough, the tree might gather me in its branches and swing me, gently, the sky soughing through its leaves. As a girl, I’d spent half my days in it, climbing, reading and daydreaming, leaping from limb to limb.
I let him cut the burl from it. Afterwards I wandered to the wound, leaking with sap, and touched the rough surface left by the saw. It was as wide as five hand spans. Tiny splinters caught in my finger pads.
Every summer evening I sat on the stone steps, watching him carefully pull the cradle from the wood. The lowering sun lit the hair of his forearms, drew out the smell of his perspiration. He chipped the bark surface away, slowly and methodically.
It was autumn when he came to set it on the lathe. He wore an old jumper, pushing up his sleeves to reveal the knotted muscles of his forearms. I folded my arms beneath my breasts for warmth. The lathe began spinning.
The burl’s cells weren’t aligned as with a normal trunk. Instead of following neat, straight lines, they caused the grain to swirl and curl in on itself. As he carved, the tension in the twisted grain was released. The wood thumped with a dull, uneven whup.
You can read the rest of this story at the Review of Australian Fiction.