For My Mother, Upon Her Retirement

My mother is a tree
grown tall with standing still,
Spreading like a green cloud
over the countryside.

When she was a sapling,
She chose her planting place
there by the winding path
that leads to adulthood.

She swore a secret oath
more binding than a contract
to give herself to them
That passed beneath her leaves.

She sent her roots down deep,
and spread her branches wide
Put her faith in breezes
Gave her seeds to the wind.

And that’s where she remained,
through cold morning darkness
and heat haze afternoons
from autumn to autumn.

Through four seasons she stood,
year after turning year
through thunder and icestorm
She gave, and she remained.

I’m sure she was wounded,
pierced and broken-hearted
by the knives of the children
and the axes of adults

but every morning bell
they found her waiting still
every day still giving,
and every day still there.

She’s not the only tree
that grows there by the path
But she’s the only one
That’s tall enough to climb

For only by standing
can trees grow tall enough
to be what trees must be
to be what trees are for.


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