The Story of My Tree

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I know what you must think
When you see my barren limbs.
You see an old tree that looks dry and wasted.
It’s true that my leaves had fallen, seemingly, never to return
And the bloom of my youth is a fuzzy dream that
Floats on the edges of memory.

Aw, but you are wrong! I am far from dead!
And I’m not just any tree, I was chosen for a special purpose!
I know that somewhere out there I have not been forgotten.
So sit awhile with me and if you listen,
With more than ears, I will tell you a story.
I will tell you about my girl.

I remember it was a bright spring morning,
And my friends, the birds, were just stirring from my branches.
When, suddenly, they leapt to the air in a flurry of fright
As a man climbed onto one of my great arms.
He shimmied to the center just above an elbow
And began to fasten something there.

In that moment I wanted nothing more than to buck him to the ground!
The man jumped down when he had finished
And stood there admiring his handiwork with pride.
The new weight was strange and unbalanced.
In a furry I wondered why this man had tread upon me
And ruined my beauty with this thing!

The air around me filled with the most horrifying shrieks.
It was as if banshies flew around my head.
I felt a tug and my limb began to sway.
Oh, I could see them then, not banshies at all
But little girls with halos of golden hair.
My furry melted away to joy, as I realized, I had been chosen!

We don’t like the older ones so much.
For they come to tear and hack and take.
But, I had heard stories of the joy little ones bring
When they come to play.
As I watched the happiness on their tipped little faces
I stood straighter and more firm and felt tremendous pride.

Then, one morning I spotted the oldest of the girls.
She walked slowly down the path toward me.
She was focused on a treat in her hands,
But as she neared she licked the last of the ice-cream
From her fingers and smiled up at me.
I knew then that I was her’s and she was mine.

She would swing with her head back and eyes closed.
Her bare feet carelessly brushed the red southern ground,
And she hummed tunelessly along with the birds and cicadas.
I knew she was dreaming dreams.
I could almost see them
Floating up and up into my highest branches.
I imagined I could catch them there for safe keeping.

Once, she ran to me, tears falling to trail behind her.
She sat on the swing with her face pressed to the rubber of the tire.
I couldn’t bear the sorrow that rolled from her in waves.
So, I called to my friends, the breeze and birds,
And we conspired to comfort her.
As I gently rocked her the birds sang and the breeze dried her tears.

As time passed her visits grew fewer and fewer.
Until one day she never came at all.
I seemed to drift then into a kind of slumber.
Without the ringing laughter and spontaneous joy of the girls
My focus became blurred and my mind began to wander.
No one came to visit me anymore.

Once, I returned from drifting with a shock as I felt a tug!
“My little ones have returned!” I thought with a thrill!
How wonderful it would be to hear their sweet voices as they swing.
Then, to my horror I realized it wasn’t them at all.
A man with a saw stood below me!
I cringed as I thought that this must be my time,
but he began to cut at my rope instead.

I tried to tell him to stop, how sad my girl would be,
but he didn’t hear and steadily he continued until he carried it away.
I think I cried then, not saltwater tears like my girl,
But my branches hung low and my leaves fell.
I remained bare then, for I had been forgotten.
Not even the birds or the breeze could lift me from my sorrow.

Sometime later, it could have been days or years,
I felt a light touch upon my trunk and I stirred.
It was a cheek pressed there and I heard a tuneless hum.
It was her! She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, and smiled.
That look I knew so well.
She was older, and I could tell she’d overcome much.

In that moment I felt pride to see how strong she’d become
Like the strength of a tree.
She was sturdy and could weather the storms.
I could tell she had roots that had gone deep.
Suddenly, I wasn’t sad anymore.
She hadn’t forgotten me.
I knew that wherever she went she would carry me in her heart.
I would always be her anchor, her dream weaver, her guide, and her comfort.
I felt joy again, and began to bloom.
-LM Jones
-picture by me. This is my tree.

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7 thoughts on “The Story of My Tree

      • There’s something so interesting- emotional too, I guess – about a tree from childhood. The giant sycamore tree that I used to climb and play in as a child has now been cut down, sadly.

        I remember wondering if it would hurt the tree if I hammered nails into the trunk to hold some interesting things I would keep up in the tree, and was amazed at how strong this living thing was that nails and a little boy going up and down it, knocking off its bark, wouldn’t even hurt it.

        The magnitude of that sycamore, and the giant pecan tree in my backyard, truly amazed me as a kid. Perhaps they were one of my first introductions to the idea that there were things much larger than me in my then-little world.

        It seems that this tree (maybe others) had a special place in your childhood – I’m glad you could go back and see it. Thank you so much for writing this!

        Liked by 1 person

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