We planted a stratified samara after he had taken root. We didn’t know which was bigger then, but when we were finally able to bring him home from the hospital, he had an early lead.
His advantage was short-lived, however. The staked sapling that sprung from the seed grew into its own stability quickly. His growth seemed typical, but became inconstant with the fickleness of his heart. By their third year, the ash was firmly vertical, while he was crooked and coiled into himself in discomfort. We pried him upright every month thereafter so we could trim the tree to his size, partnered victims of our desperate, fleeting control.
The tree now looms with its own clusters of keys — rich, green winged fruits unfurling toward the earth. Despite its wondrous sprawl, the ash won’t reach his heights. And neither will we, beneath them both, committed to the shadows we’ve borne.