Contemplating the opening words of my manuscript. I want to be descriptive, motivating and alluring, yet not too vague. And that’s not meant to be an oxymoron, but rather to entice readers to keep reading, planting seeds of my theme in the hopes they will grow and weave their roots throughout my story.
TO A TREE
“The time has come for us to move on
Let us nest that time in the
Bottom of the tree
To grow with each new branch
Letting our leaves bud with
Each new spring
The nest is our home, the branches
It is the universal home of God
For I am set in the ways of the tree
I am bound for eternity.”
There’s something about trees. My discovery started at 15 when I wrote this poem and I realized I had a place in this world. Now I refer to the nature of trees as a metaphor for living, a guiding symbol for finding home and the beginning for my story. “The trees are deep-rooted, tender leaves seemingly suspended in stillness but knowingly growing and maturing,” I wrote in my journal. Their ashen white limbs and gentle, soft nature contrast with their dark-trunked tree mates in stately oak, maple and elm.
My tree attraction wasn’t for just any tree. I had grown to know a particular birch tree in my early years – developing a kinship with its youth – planted on the same plot as I. Its delicate arms played in uncomplicated innocence, inviting me to circle around it. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s reflections. “I like to think some boy’s been swinging them . . ./ And they seem not to break;/ though once they are bowed,/ So low for long, they never right themselves: /You may see their trunks arching in the woods,/ Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,/ Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair . . .”
Birches struggle to survive. Their roots are shallow as they make their way testing the soil they may not like. My birch and I seemed to shadow one another as we made our way to new places. The discovery of my birch tree was the start of memories as it remained with me for many years, assuring me I was at home. James Roy Blair’s words from The Birch Trees affirms my remembrance. “I’ll always remember the birches for as long as I live./ It’s the silver bark of the birch, the lenticels, /and the height they grow to whilst remaining slim . . . but they always remind me of home.”
My tree had a purpose back then. Both followed me through my story.