Feb 27
poem challenge: Lifeline

You, Tree

As I sit on this stump and read
from these pages of your cousin's pulped flesh,
I burst with the excitement of next year seeing you draped in color,

You. master of graceful loss.

You, vessels of wasted breaths,
remind me of aching regret
and how we live despite it all.

The adults wonder while I write,
"would you rather learn to love
from a tree, or a goldfish?",

and I ask the question all week long.

Perhaps too many people say tree, 
not for what you are, but for what you give.

Is it love if it is also exploitation,
the story of the taker and the fool?

My father says a child's love can never rival
that of a mother's on days when she yells
and I slam my bedroom door shut.

He is probably right.

Some others choose you for your age,
and I wonder what my grandma would say
if I loved her for simply her wrinkled soft skin, sunspotted and all.

I know she would not say much.

But she might give me dog food for dinner, which would be a shame.
Or she might cry, which would be much, much worse.

And yet the irony is that you will likely die a premature death,
your promises to the coming years cut short by a swift axe to the side.

But perhaps the most ubiquitous answer is that they love you
for what you represent-- the Earth, the shady days, your poetry,
roots clinging to the Earth as your limbs that are constantly
for the sky weigh you down.

Which might really be just to say we love you
in our image.

You, giver of future breaths,
of lazy days covered in shade,
and of fruits with juice that drip from my fingers
(the ritual that marks the start of every summer).

You, Atlas of the mountains and the sky
and of all the wondrous things that wish to crush us.

You, creature of God,
beautiful in your own right and yet zealous lover
of everything all at once--

You, Home.

We will learn to love
from You,
with You,
alongside and within,

or we learn all too quickly how to fall,
Hands burnt yellow, and orange, and red.