Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The importance of a tree

There is a tree in McBaine that is locally famous. It's about 20 minutes outside of my hometown and one of the oldest Burr Oaks in the region. It is old, so old. I can't tell you how many poems I've written about the Burr Oak tree, or how many memories are tied to it. And soon this will have to find it's way into a poem or 10.

Because I visited it a couple weekends ago and it was dying. I wanted to show this tree that lived in my heart to my new brother in-law. The leaves were browning. They looked stiff and crisp, like they were stuck in Fall, but it was mid-summer. Did she get enough water? Is it just the end of her life? Is it strange to mourn them?

In a way, it almost feels like Pam's death, all over again. This was our poet tree, the poetry. I based my first good poem on this tree, for Pam and Kyle. This Burr Oak embodies the warmth and magic of my 20s, of working with other poets, of my mentor. Now there are cigarette butts around her roots. There are bottle caps. Crushed beer cans. A teenager spray painted a plea for somebody to go to the prom with them across the roots in hideous orange. The leaves are dying. I feel so broken.