On Seeing My Old Crooked Tree Uprooted After the Tornado

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I loved this old crooked tree

that refused to grow straight

with the sky but willed itself

to stretch with the horizon,

limbs resisting what every oak

near it wanted— to kiss the sun.

 

It had a brother, long since cut down,

its stump never uprooted, ground to chips.

Decades of weeping, trying to caress its kin,

had left it defiantly stunted, a hunchback

to its grief, its refusal to be another proper tree,

limbs desiring earth’s comfort to cloud’s hope.

 

The tornado swept south and

my old brick house was

left a blasted finger to its whims.

The old crooked tree was uprooted

like all the others oaks, yet granted the mercy

of caressing its waiting brother in its final fall.

 

My wife spent the time after the uprooting

like all the others after the storm,

dealing with the adjusters, collecting

the ashes, saving the memories that remained.

No thoughts of trees preoccupied her

and I was convalescing from cancer surgery.

 

Before we moved into a temporary place,

before the winds of rebuilding where beginning,

I asked for a quick drive by to see the damage

because I only imagined the destruction

from the aching confines of a hospital bed

and needed to firmly root it to mind and soul.

 

The reality was a little worse than the imagining.

The roof was gone, only an L of bricks remained.

The PTSD, anxiety, the sheer exhaustion

was already planting in my wife.

I cried for her. I cried for the last sight

of the old tree hugging stump, earth beneath.