The Willow

Introductory aside: For years, my front yard had three big oaks and a tall eucalyptus tree.  One by one, they’ve all died and been removed — the final oak was taken down last week — and now they have been replaced with two small saplings and far more sunlight than I’m used to.  The front lawn of my grandparents’ house was dominated by a pendulous weeping willow, but I haven’t seen the tree in years — not since my grandmother died and my grandfather moved out of the empty house.  I can remember pulling on the whiplike branches of that tree, trying to climb to the top of the canopy, only to have the frail, drooping fronds snap off in my hands.

I’ve been thinking about trees lately.  I miss the pines of Mammoth summers, ages one to eighteen; the birches of summer camp, ages six to ten; the beeches of Europe, age twenty-one.  I miss the oaks that stood like sentinels across my driveway.  I miss the willow that knew my family as well as I did.

A willow grows outside my door
Its branches and its leaves adored
By everyone, I think, but me —
To me it’s just a lovely tree

Its shade is cool, its trunk divine
And every day I lie supine
Under the verdant canopy
And feel it breathe, this perfect tree

The willow sings me lullabies
And holds me as the world goes by
A green embrace for only me
Provided by my caring tree

Always I’ll dream of those long days,
Of the blithe daze and that malaise,
But now I see reality
Deracinate the pretty tree

And as I watch the willow weep
Celadon tears to haunt my sleep
I wonder why I cannot be
Enamored as the tree with me.