The Humanitree by Matt Rowan

Think of me as a tree. Imagine that. Me! A tree. But not just a tree, a human tree. A tree that extends its branches to to you, a fellow human and tree, joined by humanitree.

Remember I want to hug you with branches that act as arms. My skin is like bark but pink and fleshy like skin, with an amber hue in places reminding you of both human skin’s callouses and a tree’s coarse bark.

Why are you freaked out by my trunk painted blue to look like a t-shirt, and then red painted below that to look like shorts. I’m like a little boy who is totally cool but I remain, too, a tree. Combined. To love as a tree will. To show mercy as a boy will.

A loving tree! A merciful boy! Such things exist and they are me.

I will not smash your head against a rock. Especially provided you join me and you join humanitrees. If you do not then of course I must smash your head against a rock.

So my not smashing your head against a rock is conditional. The condition being that you join me in humanitree. So why are you crying, then? Who wouldn’t want to be like me. All the cruelty of a boy and the indifference of a tree.

These branches are arms! That’s why the blue paint is painted around them to look like many shirtsleeves of various widths.

There’s paint on the tips of my tree roots, at the end of each a kind of foot looking thing. Painted on these strange tips is black looking sneakers paint. I have feet like an octopus’s tentacles. And I move around on my roots like so many fingers drumming against floorboards.

We drum against the floorboards in great numbers, you and me and all who join us. A great army. Humanitree on the march. Doing and changing the things that need doing and changing.

Which is how I’ve come to become your psychologist in the first place. I may one day be a doctor of psychology, but for the meantime I’m a human and a tree of psychology.

And I am explaining to you, join us! Be one of us! Or the smash-your-head thing will be my only alternative.

I’m extending the humanitree branch to you. Please do not attempt to light it on fire.

I’m not a sinister being, but I am one that wishes to welcome you into the fold.

Matt Rowan is the author of the short story collection Why God Why (Love Symbol Press, 2013) and co-edits Untoward Magazine. His work can, or soon will, be found in NOÖ Journal, The Bicycle Review, Gigantic, Atticus Review and Pear Noir!, among others. More at He lives in Chicago with his wonderful girlfriend and two small and wonderful dogs.