The poplars looked cold. The trunks and narrow limbs seemed more than winter bare. They were stark. They were stripped and bleached.
Abe broke off a twig. It snapped dry.
On the tree, silver sap dripped from the new wound. The drops became a stream leaking onto the frozen ground. A thick puddle grew.
The stream became a spray, and Abe put his hand out to block it. Thick drops turned to rivulets down his wrist and hardened. He flexed his hand, and they cracked and flowed again in new directions down his arm.
Abe, frantic, wiped his heavy arm on his shirt. It stuck to the cloth and tore it as he pulled away. He could no longer flex his wrist or elbow. His shoulder stiffened.
He ran back down the road, but his legs became clumsy, and within seconds they stuck fast.
Tendrils climbed his neck, wormed into his nose, mouth and ears until his cry choked off. He stood a silver statue.
A low grating echoed quietly from his open mouth. A branch emerged, bone white. His fingertips, knees, shoulders and toes crackled as shoots pushed through, branching up and out.
The wind blew, and Abe swayed, stark and bare.