One Tree and Me – a Poem by Paul J. Hoffman

Tree of Life

Over the course of the past 51-plus years, I’ve done a lot of writing. Much of it has come in the course of my 30 years in journalism. I’ve also authored a book, transcribed whatever I could recall from my dreams for a period of about 3 years or so, and written poetry and song lyrics with varying degrees of competence. 

About a year ago, I sat alone in a wooded area and cleared my mind from all of life’s little annoyances. I soaked in a cool breeze on the sunny afternoon and found myself mesmerized by a tree standing before me.

As I looked at the tree, really looked at it, and thought about how what function each part of the tree had, and how each part reacted to its surroundings, I started thinking about the different aspects of my personality and being, and what functions those performed. I also considered how I react to my surroundings, or perhaps I should react. 

Those thoughts got pushed to the back of my mind until a recent trip to a local writers club meeting, where one of the writers read a poem she wrote where a tree was a central theme. It reminded me of the spring day nearly a year previous when I had the aforementioned epiphany. I was motivated to try to describe the event in a poem.

Below is the result of that effort. I am pleased to say that a friend of mine has planned on using the poem in her homeschooling curriculum. What an honor!

One Tree and Me

Me, I sit, a cool breeze it spits

Winsome on my face

Wisdom in my soul


My gaze, it stares, intense, in glare

At the rebirth of my earth

A time of joy, a time of mirth

Like a camera on a tripod

My head, it turns, it nods

Eyes, ears, nose and mouth are trained

But other senses not easily explained

Awake


One tree, and me, so ordinary

So plain, so same

But for one moment not

Now

And forever


Invisible roots dig deep

They creep and they seek

Necessary nourishment

To provide life, liberty

And the pursuit of soul spirit to the perimeter


Green ground ‘round a plucky trunk

Weather worn and hen-pecked

Slightly knotty, not overripe or rotted

It oozes spunk, no stupid junk

It is what it stands for


Fractal branches random radiate

Biceps, triceps, elbows grate

Forearms quiver, shiver, shake

When air affronts, grunts and quakes

Sway and swing with the rhyme of the season


Holding up hands of twigs and leaves

Reaching for light with heavenly heaves

Spirited

Agile

Free

Vulnerable like little children

Smug in their ignorance


A benign breeze, agitated

Provides contrary evidence

And gusts with such lust

That leaves from stems

Stems from twigs

Twigs from branches

Have their bodies plundered

On damp lightning nights

Rumbling with thunder


And the fragile fragments

Of my maturing mind

Unaware the crime of destined time

Like a tot’s tiny vice grip on mama’s hand

Have no choice but to let loose

Either to decompose and die

Or to spread their wings and fly


We are strong

We are sturdy

We are broken and bent

Knobby and gnarled

Bound by our foundations

Yet more free than we can see


It takes much to cut us down

To kill us from the outside

It takes little to slowly ruin us from within

Self-doubt, pout and fear

The tiny termites who live near


Protect within

One tree

And me

Akin


By Paul J. Hoffman

3/21/2015

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