The Tree Climber

We Write Poems’ Prompt this week encouraged us to think about trees…

The Tree Climber

Falling from a tree —
That’s a memory I lack,
though I wish I had a scar,
almost imperceptible, hidden
on my shin or across my clavicle
like the indent of a seashell
sleeping under the bone —

It would have been an oak,
the strongest, tallest one,
at the mouth of a wood.
A sentinel, centuries, millenia-old.
An attempt at a house
cradled in the upper branches,
(a summer day’s effort
usurped by birds, rain, years)

and messages scratched onto its base:
hieroglyphs copied from textbooks,
a poem once timeless.
My favorite limb wide enough
to stand on, fifteen feet high,
enough for one to be invisible
under thick spring leaves,
enough to be not anybody, not me,
(more like that fifth-grade teacher
who told us, long ago, how she
used to be a tomboy
that recklessly climbed trees)

like her I’d be invincible
against the armies wanting
to infiltrate, aimed stones
at their armored heads,
waited for the last light to drop until,
at every afternoon’s end, they vanished
and I could finally be alone.

The fall was like any other:
a branch broken under the weight
of its age, a misplaced foot —
the ground rising up fifteen feet
to meet my stunned face, my shin,
my clavicle all in one burst of gravity,
and no one there to break that
quick tumble or dust the dirt
off my elbows.

And now I would tug at the scar
sleeping under bared skin,
and say to the one lying
next to me in the morning sun
(because he would ask,
because he would trace it with a finger)
how I once fell from an oak
on an autumn day,
when I was just a girl
who climbed trees.

12 thoughts on “The Tree Climber

  1. I love the description of the scar, beautiful images throughout but this really struck me…:”like the indent of a seashell/sleeping under the bone –” I so enjoy that your poem is cyclical and brings us back from reminiscing to a present moment. Oh! One more thing…love the image of the tree you chose. Smiles~

  2. I love the themes you bring out in this poem…the need to sometimes feel invincible, the desire to be alone, and the desire to have some evidence of the experience…sometimes, scars ain’t so bad after all. I’m impressed with where you went with this poem.


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