Nov 29
poem 0 comments challenge: Trees

Rubbing Hands

It must be quiet in the desert
where there isn't a tree for miles.
They lift their branches
as we pass beneath them.
We thank them for being kind
just like when we would thank a friend.
Some of them smile
some of them frown.
Sometimes, they have no expression at all.
When they sleep, their trunks creak a snore.
The wood rubs together and creates friction,
so they always have to be careful.
Don't set fire to yourself now!
You'll start a forest fire!
As a child, I'd rub my hands together
and see if it would make a fire.
A sapling planted beside me
tried to copy what I was doing.
Her mother stood tall less than three feet away.
She was chatting up a family nearby.
They looked up at her as though she was a giant
ready to stomp on them at any moment.
Fee-fi-fo-fum! What a lovely dress!
The sapling broke the conversation
with an ear-splitting squeal.
Her twigs had caught fire.
I was four years old and I watched.
I only knew how to start fires
because that's what people did
and as the sapling flared,
I turned away as though looking at the sun.
Her mother watched in horror,
unable to save her own child,
and as the sapling burned out and ceased to cry,
my mother lifted me from the bench
and pulled me away
and carried me away from the hot flames.
They never buried the little sapling.
People say that they just regrow, but that's not true.
Trees can't be replaced like furniture.
People can't just regrow from the ground.
Her mother wept a stream
and that stream became the river
running through our little town.
In my teenage years, I swam in that river
and felt her body around mine.
The smallest friction, sapling, or child
can start the gnarliest of fires.
The more trees that burned, the louder they screamed,
and they wept their anger towards me,
calling me an arsonist,
though I was but a child rubbing her hands together,
hoping to see a spark.