Tuesday, May 10, 2016

In the Shade

Under the shade of
an old gnarled tree,
knotty and twisted
with the arthritis of
age etched in the bark,
sat a young boy picking
at the dirt.

A hot summer breeze
riffled the leaves and
creaked the branches
but brought no cooling
relief to the boy in the
shade, picking at the

A picnic party of adults
was taking place across
the clearing, they were drinking
and dancing and joking and
smoking, and doing those thing
adults shouldn’t do. Things the boy
couldn’t do.

The boy leaned back in the shade
and felt the rough old bark against
his skin. It was coarse and sharp but
not uncomfortable. The boy looked
up through the twisted branches
as the hot summer air brushed the
leaves to and fro.

The sun sparkled and dappled
in the flapping leaves, the tree
groaned slightly in the wind,
the boy looked back over at his
mother at the party, dancing with
some guy who wasn’t his dad,
just some guy the boy didn’t know.

The boy folded his small arms over his
scabby knees and pulled them up to his
chest. He rested his forehead
on his forearm, but it was too
sweaty. He was the only kid at
the party, but he wasn’t the only

The old tree creaked in the heat,
the boy looked down in the dirt
around the thick stitch-work of roots
trailing through the dry ground, he pressed
his hand into the cool dirt and let it
linger. He thought he could feel a
heartbeat in the ground.

The boy turned from the base of the
tree and felt along its rough hide,
the boy could swear he could hear
whispering. He pressed his face close to
the bark and held his breath but it
was quiet except for the gentle creak
of the branches above.

There were yelling voices from
across the clearing, adults fighting,
the boy’s mother yelling for him, that
they were leaving, while two other men
shoved at each other, neither one was
the boy’s dad.  The boy felt the tree once
more, gave it a pat on its knobby side.

The boy ran from out of the shade at his
mother’s beckoning into the hot
summer sun. They’d get in the car and
drive back home to the city where there
were no shade trees to listen to,
no old souls to lean on. 

No comments:

Post a Comment