Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memory: Still a Tree
Twenty some years ago when my family, and I moved to the little five acres south of Smithton where my wife and I still reside,there was a gnarled old tree in the back yard, that looked as if it had gone through too many storms. The ground beneath the old tree had lost its strength at some point letting the tree lean nearly to the ground. The previous owner of the land had placed two by fours stratgically under it so it was held about four feet off the ground with its sparcely leafed top pointed west. Each hard rain seemed to make it lean more and more, and I knew some day I would wake up and find it lying flat on the ground. I fought with myself over the thought of ending its struggle with gravity, but each time I brought out the chainsaw something would make me put it away again unused. The old tree did finally succumb to the elements without my help, but the dirt still clung to its roots feeding it for quite awhile. Only when the leaves curled up and died could I bring myself to finish what I had started so many times. The tree did inspire me to write it a poem, which I felt somehow would mean it still lived. As for me it always will.
The poem below was written years ago, but in my mind the tree still lives in my back yard.
Still a Tree
Bent and twisted low to ground like an old man ravaged by time
Eaten by rot and half as thick as nature’s first design
Two by fours form a brace a crutch against a fall
Shaded by Its stately peers around it straight and tall
Why it leans as if to reach the horizon not the sky,
are reasons buried in its past and ground it's forced to lie.
I can not bring myself to do what someday must be done,
as long as there is still one leaf or drop of sap to run.
A squirrel runs along Its length my mind perceives a sway.
A fear the tree can stand no more I shoo the squirrel away.