by Angela Zame
Tree Pose written by Mary Woodward, Kiss Me Hardy Issue 3
Woodward’s essay starts delightfully, drawing us into the calm of the yogi world, a beginning that belies the direction of her essay. Reference to The Tree Pose is a metaphor for the trees, homes and lives under the threat of destruction during the central Nelson fires of 2019. The essay focuses us on Woodward’s personal point of view, as a spectator of the arson-led fire in central Nelson, in the wake of the Pidgeon Valley fire.
Woodward cleverly parallels her experience of the Tree Pose – Vrisasana, as an altering state of being, one day a pose of strength, another day a pose full of wobbles. She asks the personified trees questions about their state of mind and stature, in the face of the fire that is threatening to rip through their stability and cause ferocious destruction.
Then the prose shifts effortlessly into the immediate dialogues between those who are observing the fire. They recount their experiences, and comment on the events as they unfold, all while the firefighters do their thing.
It’s a touching tale of an encounter with strangers in the face of fear, that reminds us how in troubling times, when disaster strikes, such experiences can be great levellers of the human condition. The essay depicts a snap shot of human responses; empathy, questioning, criticism, awkwardness, generosity, apathy and finally shame. Raw emotions. I found this to be an honest and courageous piece of writing, remaining with me, long after reading.