Once upon a time, on the 26th of February 2016…
If only the weeping willow at the Cité Cézanne could have told of the pruning it endured at the beginning of that spring, just as its buds were beginning to blossom.
The birds called out to one another as springtime approached. A chatty magpie slowly repaired his nest in the neighbouring park while a tree trimmer – who had dutifully and skillfully trimmed the tree the day before – was forced to carry out the neighbours’ prosecution of this scapegoated willow. The sound of his chainsaw pierced the air.
This neighbourhood drama has three protagonists: the magpie, the tree trimmer and a weapon of mass destruction, the chainsaw.
As a process of destruction unfurls between spring and autumn, when a massive mushroom attack defeats the willow’s efforts to survive, Vincent Hénon recites a litany – an excerpt of the 1 111 invented bird names with which Valère Novarina concludes Le Discours aux animaux (Words to Animals). The tree may not have survived, but it lives on in the memories of these imagined, and still possible, lives.