This week’s story was inspired by Donald Harington’s novel, The Choiring of the Trees. Harington, who died in 2009, is one of the foremost writers from my home state of Arkansas. Entertainment Weekly called him, “America’s greatest unknown writer.” Born and raised in Little Rock, Harington lost his hearing at the age of 12 from meningitis. Being deaf did not keep him from becoming a professor of art history and he taught at universities in New York, New England and South Dakota before returning to his alma mater, The University of Arkansas, and teaching for 22 years until his retirement. He is best known for his novels of Ozark life, set in the fictional town of Stay More. His most popular novel is The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks.
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The Singing Trees
Alone in the writhen forest on a wild windy day, the zephyr whistling through the twisted limbs sings a song that sounds hauntingly familiar. The rattling leaves reverberate like snare drums and the creaking branches sing backup. I lie down under the misshapen growth and listen to the choiring air, the tune on the tip of memory, and fall asleep to the arboreal lullaby. I awake at dusk, the wind has died, but the tree music magically plays on and I finally recognize the melody and sing along, “Alas my love, you do me wrong to cast me out discourteously.”