Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'd rather have the tree

In case you're wondering, I'm between books (just research and notes at this stage) and waiting to hear from agents, so I thought I'd stretch a little--try to remember if I ever knew how to do this in the first place and if I did it at all well or not. If I ever did, I'm clearly out of practice.

I'd rather have the tree (early draft)

We have this every spring.
And every spring it ends the same.
He points where lawn should be
at last fall's leaves beneath my tree
where I rake them to hide the lack of green.
(So it looks like we're merely lazy, not bereft).

And he says, pointing at the cedar's branches,
accusation traveling to trunk and root,
"Lets cut it down and have grass instead."
I place my hand on the peeling breadth
of trunk just beneath weighty splayed branches
and say, "I'd rather have the tree."

He kicks at leaves, rocks and roots.
stares at his shoes, squints, half-mutters,
"We can always plant another.
An oak or red maple or box wood."
And I tug on lower branches, watch them split
gather and rebreak the sunlight.
"And we'll be old and dead or long gone
by the time it yields shade.
I'd rather have the tree."

I know he sees the neighbors homes
with uniform fescues of single shades
and then there's ours with dirt in front
and dandelions,clovers, wildest greens and golds
in back and he wishes he had more lawn
and less of my trees.

But she (I know, just know) was here
before stripped wood spilled from trucks
and rock was plied to foundation,
before they laid in pipes,
and threaded roads between.
She survived thirty years
of owners before us.
And she's earned her place
in my front yard.

And, had he his way,
and chopped her down and planted his lawn,
where would the bird feeders hang?
And what would keep the sun
from reminding us too early
of the hours of work ahead
and slow our mornings down
to just coffee and talk?
No, I'd rather have the tree.


Scotty said...

I like it, Mary.

Different dandelions over there, are they?


Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Scotty. I'm glad you liked it. I fixed the misspelling.

I confess, I wrote this one in the window as a kind of poetic flash fiction exercise and didn't spell check it as carefully as I should have.

Maybe after ten or eleven more poems and a few drafts of each I'll be ready to workshop work again.

Debby said...

Mary: are you and yours safe from the flooding?

Mary O. Paddock said...

Hi Debby,

Thank you for asking. We're fine here. Fortunately we're located on high ground. I went out this morning and snapped some shots of the lake and the streams that feed it. 'Pretty impressive.

The only major problem we've had was with Gary getting to work. Many of the roads he takes to the factory were blocked by rushing water yesterday, so he had to take some serious detours. Despite the fact that he left for work an hour earlier than usual, he clocked in two hours late, but it couldn't be helped.

Scotty said...

Well, there's some news we didn't get here, Mary - the flooding in your area. Glad to hear that everyone is okay.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Scotty. :)