It's just poetry, it won't bite

The Cherry Tree

01.09.17 Posted in today's words by

Jaclyn Burr’s most recent poem to appear here was “Footsteps in the Ashes” (November 2016)

The Cherry Tree
By Jaclyn Burr

Behind my childhood home,
against the horizon of the wistful, grassy field,
there stands a lone black-cherry tree.
It rests at the crest of the farthest hill,
overlooking slopes of meadow and marsh—
a quiet bastion of grace, might, and solitude.
Thick, ashy bark meanders upward,
diverging into tremendous beams,
from which sprawling, slender branches rise.
Delicate leaflets of sage, rust, and soft-yellow dangle below,
fluttering like paper petals in the breeze
and scattering sunlight through a canopy of lace.
Any wanderer seeking respite would find shelter
beneath the cascading green blankets.

I remember running to the safety of the tremendous tree,
on a pitch-black night,
in a game of “ghost in the graveyard.”
I’d collapse my arms around the trunk with relief, invincible,
as the “ghosts” of my siblings retired back to the woods.
No matter how terrifying the pursuer,
the sturdy, wide trunk,
the pillowy, overgrown grass,
and the embroidered veil of the leaves
never failed to shut out the fear.

Years later,
I sprint through the lawn again,
feet crunching over parched yellow grass, until the crochet curtain brushes my shoulders.
Clinging to the weathered knobs of gray bark,
I let loose explosive streams of tears,
and as sobs shaking my weakened frame,
I fall to the earth.
I sit, staring out at the dried up swamplands,
and resting the bones of my back between the rivets of the bark.
There is solace in being sheltered from the world,
as the trunk hides my silhouette,
and the setting sun tries, with its last genteel warmth,
to dry my tear-stained face.

Maybe this place can save me again,
can make the doctor call back once more,
to tell my mother the test says: benign.
Then, I won’t have to see her cry—
I’ll see only wispy white dandelions and flittering sun.
I won’t have to hear the phone ring—
I’ll hear only the crickets in the marsh.
But my swelling eyes and tangled stomach tell me,
I can’t stay.
these ghosts will stay with me.
The safety I seek is unattainable,
even from the mighty cherry tree.

When my parents told me the other day
that the cherry tree was dying,
I turned to see their loving faces,
and told them they were wrong.
encircled by my arms
and watered by my warmest tears,
the tree stands.

One Response to “The Cherry Tree”

  1. I love, love, love this poem. Exquisite!

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