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.
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,
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.
Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB
Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?