The tree you have

When, in the midst of an online discussion,
someone says the word tree and invites
you to envision that tree—a magnificent tree

with a strong trunk, one with roots reaching
deep into the earth, drawing up what is needed
to grow and live, a tree with a grand,

welcoming presence—you do. Feel the texture
of the bark,
the someone says. Notice the rich colors.
Feel the soles of your feet opening to the subtle

energy of the earth. And you see yourself sitting
on a slab of granite under a resplendent tree
you visited a couple of weeks ago, overlooking

the lake where you grew up. And you long,
instantly, to drive to that place, walk up that hill,
sit under that gracious oak, today, this moment,

and let yourself be gradually filled by
its vitality, its generosity as you rest under it.
Right now.

But you cannot get to that tree right now.
Obligations await, must-be-done today stuff
punctuated by the mrawww of the big orange cat

making an entrance, wanting something he
cannot get without you. So you finish the session,
feed the cat and sigh, looking out the back

door window into a gorgeous afternoon.
It is spring, you remember, and the big sycamore
in the back yard, recently trimmed, is leafing

out nicely. It is not the oak by the lake, but
this is the tree you have, right here, right now.
So you open the door, and you and the cat

walk into the day, sunlight winking through
new leaves. And feeling a bit silly, as well as
rather ungrateful to this century-old friend

who has sheltered your house well before
it became yours, you step into the ivy at
its base and put your hands on rough bark.

You close your eyes, inhale, shadowed,
protected by a girth you cannot encircle
with your arms. But you try. You wrap

your arms around the hefty trunk
and smile at yourself, the tree hugger,
the cat watching from his sunspot on

the deck, both of you blinking, all of you
breathing, living into this perfect moment
of grace.

Photo / Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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