This is a poem I wrote in a creative writing course in college. It reminds me that I can persevere through anything.
by Michelle Saunderson
I stand alone in a field of green. My roots anchor me on a gentle sloping hill overlooking a serene pond. Last summer a calf drowned in the pond. I do not know why, I just know that scavengers picked at the bloated corpse. Bones remain to remind the living of their own impending fate. I can hear frogs splashing, retreating to the pond’s murky depths. They croak like dying men.
A wrinkle for each year tells me that I am twenty, merely an adolescent, yet I have grown large and strong. My shade beckons all that come to my field, including the robins that nest in my boughs. My leaves are a parade of hands, waving in the wind. In my trunk, a heart is carved, a scar of temporary love. The initials are engraved forever in my skin.
Though I try to control my life, the seasons rule me. Cycles of fortune or tragedy persist. My livelihood is determined by outside influences to which I must respond. I must face droughts, floods, disease, and man’s menacing ax with the vigor of a sapling. My bark is my only protection, a shield against all dangers, yet it too can be penetrated. I am defenseless against an entourage of perils.
Spring brings a time of growth. Buds are my fingertips, groping for sunlight. My roots drink in the season’s first showers greedily. The field around me transforms from a dingy taupe to a lustrous green. A woman brings a toddler to my field to see the suckling calves and to chase butterflies.
During the summer I am magnificent. Chlorophyll fills my veins and my limbs grow strong and agile. I am forever reaching to new heights, reaching to the sun. I am a home to birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. The grass is an established green around me, daisies bloom above my roots. A small child in a nearby farmhouse seeks comfort in me, reading silently in my shade.
When autumn comes, my richness fades. My twigs become brittle like arthritic bones. My leaves change to blazing colors of yellow, orange, and blood red. Beetles bore into my bark. Veins harden, allowing leaves to become aged newspapers, crinkling in the breeze. Animals begin storing their wealth within my trunk, while I shed all signs of life. What had once been my pride is raked into bags to be put upon compost piles by middle aged and elderly men.
By winter I am a skeleton, gray as a granite tombstone. The field becomes my winter grave. Not until spring will I live again, until then, I am naked to the world.