The following spoken word piece comes from a writing prompt about what the oldest tree on my street could have witnessed…enjoy.
THINGS THE OLDEST TREE ON MY BLOCK HAS SEEN.
The oldest tree on my block has seen entire families grow up and die, living generation after generation in the same house.
That same ancient tree has also seen family after family move into other houses like a revolving door of bloodlines, like long lines at shopping malls on Black Friday in the 90’s.
The old tree has seen the earth get trampled on like shoppers trampling on each other on Black Friday in the early 2000’s.
The old tree has also seen us sell off our morality, our dignity, resources and each other in the twenty-teens, like Wall-Mart black Friday junk being sold off on clearance likes some Midas-caressed heirloom.
The old tree would close its eyes because it has seen enough
It would roll its eyes when I try to explain why humanity deserves another chance
It would dry its eyes when I said I cared for earth but it smelled chicken and butter on my breath, things that rightfully belong to its mother, its family.
It would rub its eyes with incredulity when I threw myself at its mercy saying I swear we’d change.
We’d become stewards where we had been wayward
We’d become shepherds where we had been slaughtering
We’d become better fathers and do better at daughter-ing, and watering our family trees because that’s the only way we can restore a deep respect for earth back into the heart of humanity.
By deepening our own roots with life.
By branching out
By letting go of what leaves, all that leaves
And raking myself back into piles of dead old problems that are now just play things for me to jump around in,
to burst out of, and make people laugh.
To burn and enjoy the smell of
The be captured and under the spell of
The old tree has protected me during every childhood autumn when it rained down comfort and color and beauty and made me hibernate in the bosom of my family.
The tree is that one tree in every neighborhood.
You know the one I’m talking about. That tree.
When you were a kid it was too big to contain but now that you’re older it’s somehow grown but also smaller than you remember.
We’ve all sat under it and been shaded.
The brave or dumb among us try to climb it
The unlucky fall out and the blessed are caught by the family they nurtured back there in the shade.
Am I blessed?
Or am I shady?
Or is that my shadow convincing me I’m not ready.
To be nourished or to ever flourish.
Time to learn from the tree the deepest lesson it has to teach me.
Time to root deeply, branch out, reach for the sun, open my palms and soak it all in.