In a recent poetry workshop, we were asked to write a poem from a memory about Grief. The memory of a few trees had the power to remind me of a special person and the realities of life.
Trees of Life
Bertha’s full figure filled her day dress
as she wiped her hands on the well-worn apron.
Then a flourish of her arms embraced me
in her welcome.
(She preferred hugs to waves.)
We’d sit and talk—yes, laugh as
she tangled English words with
her native French-Canadian tongue,
but I always understood her.
We walked through her gardens,
inside and out, admiring
begonias, impatiens and roses.
She touched them tender and
spoke their language—
Until the day
her breast cancer budded,
leaving her life pruned.
Weeping fig, umbrella and gold dust trees,
she asked if I’d take them home.
I cleaned leaves to keep them sleek, and
circled them toward the sun.
Over many summers, their branches nodded
to window whiffs slipping in.
They seemed to like their places—
until my divorce.
Shortly after my move,
their canopy of leaves yellowed and fell.
Eventually, the branches became bare,
all my efforts to save—
Even the things you don’t expect