Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Last Tanenbaum

image borrowed from bing

The Last Tanenbaum

“Violence in the voice is often only the death rattle
of reason in the throat.”--H.G. Bohn.

Christmas came,
before I left the last time
after our painful disengagement;

one of my last memories was stopping
at the door and looking back
at you next to the tall fir in your living room,

resplendent, laden with the children’s decorations,
colorful blinking lights, strings of yellow-white popcorn,
& those damn silly Simpson’s bulbs--

feeling the rush of recent memory
when we found it on that gray rainy day
out on the bluff among its evergreen brethren
at that unique tree farm that overlooked the Sound,

how it spoke to us:
“Hey, look at me, for I am the one you seek,
the tree that will love you.”

We were four under two umbrellas
while I worked on my knees in the mud,
sawing, sawing with that jagged crosscut blade,

deeper & deeper into its stubborn trunk,
finally toppling it over into the girl’s anxious arms,
before carrying it wet in our eight hands,

ping-ponging through the dripping ragged rows
before hoisting it high onto the rails atop
your silver Volvo station wagon, tethering
it with green & yellow twine--

oh how we giggled, laughed, and caroled
along those several happy miles, listening
to it shift & sway above our bobbing heads.

Later, on a brief coffee date, you told me about
about that night, soon after a lonely New Year’s Eve,
when you dismantled it alone, packing
the decorations gently back into their bright boxes,
and how you kept staring at it, erect, robust--
& for reasons never articulated, you could not bear
to part with it completely, to hand it over to the garbage
man, because somehow this tree was different.

You dragged it outside, and leaned it up on the lee 
of your house, near your bedroom window, where
it rested month after month, until Winter
moved into Spring.

I drove by your place several times & saw it there;
brown-black, brittle, beaten down, yet defiant,
nestled against the siding,

a decaying, 
perhaps forgotten sentinel,
perhaps symbolic of the last gasps
of our relationship,
perhaps being punished, tortured, abused
as bizarre retribution.

Intrigued & saddened, one day
before you came home from work,
I could stand it no longer
& decided to move it.

As my hands slid under its dry boughs,
it was still capable of bleeding pitch,
& unbelievably, on its underside,
some of its needles were still green;
death had not fully claimed it yet.

I cradled it in my arms, pulling
it upright, whereby most of its driest needles
began to fall off, & I swear I heard
a faint whisper on the warm breeze;

“Thank-you, oh thank-you
for coming back, for I could not
have lasted much longer.”

I dragged it for an hour
into the woods
on the east side of your house,
leaning it up against an indifferent alder.
It seemed so frail, so naked that
I had to hug it one last time,
and then sit beside it, holding
the green branch, talking to it softly,
waiting for its final breath. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Joseph Hesch said...

Terrific. But that last verse is killer. Indifferent alder. The spirit and image it leaves the reader with is sublime, Glenn.

Björn said...

What a wonderful tale you weave in stunning tender rhythm... it has the sadness of the Anderssen tale "The Fir Tree".. though from another perspective.. how an old Christmas tree can be that last piece holding it all together... I love it.. one of your very best ever.

Brian Miller said...

very nice story telling man...and def an easy rhythm throughout...caught a kenning or two in there...and some nice subtle allit...nice hug there in the end as well...touching...

Anonymous said...

A very easy rhythm and I agree the last verse is powerful Glenn. >KB

Heaven said...

I agree, a lovely story Glenn ~ I like how you gave voice to the tree and that ending stanza is very touching, waiting for its final breath ~

Anonymous said...

The rhythm was the first thing that I liked and after the whole read, also the story. What a great ending!

Mary said...

A very touching story here, Glenn. One I read a few times to savor It has a ring of sadness to me. Plus poignancy. I think even a tree must appreciate such hugs...and that someone really cares about its life.

Anonymous said...

Love the flow of the story here, Glenn, matched by the rhythms in the words you have used.

That ending, as others have said, is stunning.

Anonymous said...

This was so easy to read, as far as rhythm goes, but so hard, because of all the sadness woven through it.

Anonymous said...

Glenn, I loved this. So poignant, but also a beautiful and very relatable metaphor to love, because love is a living thing, and we don't ever want to kill it, but sometimes it just dies on us, however slowly. I too think this is one of my favorite poems of yours. Beautiful and rich. ~Lupe

kaykuala said...

Very touching and a very emotional ending. It brings to a close very realistically a kind endeavor! Great write Glenn!


Anonymous said...

Glenn - I recall the cross-cut saw and bending in the mud to get a tree - this poem has a beautiful softness I have not seen in you before - it's very touching

Claudia said...

oh heck glenn...that is a very emotional write and story... esp. moved by the part when you still find traces of life

kkkkaty said...

touching poem that flows nicely; sorry I missed 55 all the time it was up...just finding time for dverse, but see the activity going over there and wish I had had more time for it...smiles

Jenny Tacken said...

I felt a peace and sadness while reading this Glenn. A very poignant write and as some others have commented, a softness that I haven't read before.

Brandee Shafer said...

Ok, this moved me. Especially I loved the pitch and green part and the mercy in your taking it back into the woods to die.

If you read anything of mine, read this

instead of the poem I linked at dVerse, because we seem to be two pieces to one puzzle. Wild. Our poems should be read together.

May God bless and keep.

vivinfrance said...

Glenn, this poem had me in tears it was so sad.

The flow is wonderful, even though you haven't stuck to the same metre throughout. That takes great skill.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Im so speechless...! I could feel the sadness, the loss, the memories past... It was so poignant. I love it.

Beth Winter said...

I love how it never gave up. The memories are vivid and an absolute pleasure to experience. Thanks for the warm memories and thank you for the wonderful comment on my poem. :)


The Bizza said...

This flowed easily and draws feelings of longing for what was and the dignified resignation of what is no more. Great writing here.

Beachanny said...

And this week the thought of dying trees unite us. Yours so symbolic of something fresh and new that withered with time like the cut tree with no root system - complete with regrets for cuttings on both tree and relationship. Beautifully articulated, Glenn! (Sorry I'm so slow getting around..I know I promised days ago)