Tree corpse, or: Ship of dreams

Trees find purchase in human remains;
Some lush, some losing their leaves, some bare; but
Screw the symbolism! Am I right? Or was I

A seven-year-old, devastated
When his beloved tree corpse,
Ship of dreams and fantasy voyages to outer space,
Was barbarously hacked down in cold sap
For being

Unsafe, supposedly;
In seventh grade, or sixth, given detention
During a school fieldtrip for climbing 
Into an unfamiliar tree,
Drawn 
By its low hanging limbs, open

Arms,
So many bare, warm arms, generous refuge 
From the... The unknowns of the universe
Now remain 
Lying in purchased burial plots;
Inhuman, really,
Because they aren't.

W3 poetry prompt

The above piece is an ekphrastic poem inspired by the photo below, which was offered by Steven S. Wallace for his W3 poetry prompt this week.


Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

40 thoughts on “Tree corpse, or: Ship of dreams”

  1. My grandpa had a cherry tree. Really good cherries. Very unusual in the Middle West. Once I fell out of it and sprained my ankle. He died a few months later. I didnโ€™t really know him well. The tree eventually came down.

  2. My gratitude for this lovely poem from a fellow tree climber, David! When I was nine and ten, I used to climb a massive magnolia tree in the historic church cemetery next to our house. We had a lovely view way up there overlooking fields of corn, peanuts, and cotton.

    When we came back down to earth, we enjoyed reading the quaint verses on the beautiful old gravestones. Many had carved angels and other motifs. A child’s grave had a lamb resting on top of the gravestone. Sadly, the tree is no longer there, and Whaleyville, the little town where I spent two years of my childhood, has become a suburb of Suffolk, VA.

  3. The trees are lying in purchased burial grounds?
    You mean all those wonderful human beings whose spirit has left them.
    I’m happy trees grow in cemeteries.
    I love standing beneath one as I ponder the ground and survey the heavens as the wind whistles through the leaves of the gentle swaying branches.
    On a cool and calm day of course
    Away from the eye of the storm

    I couldn’t cut off one branch from your Tree verse.
    I’d love to keep them intact
    They belong together.
    young, middle-age and the old branches, as one man.

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