The dad tree
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
This poem is dedicated to my father. It was written in summer 2019 in the Murphy Writing program "Get Away to Write" in Dundee, Scotland. For me it gets in to the white, hot grief of losing a parent.
The Dad Tree
“That tree’s got Elm’s disease,
That one, too.” My brother pointed.
“And the beetle got that one.
We gotta get ‘em taken care of.”
Dad had taught us all about that
Trees and the woods.
Our secret stream out back.
Dad on the porch with a beer.
Summertime thunderstorms, crickets
Our default state of life on Short Road.
Beer was his prison,
he didn’t know until it was too late.
But we did.
It slid down his throat, so smooth,
Past the crucifix he wore
(it was his mother’s)
That need for beer was stronger
than his love for beer.
But never stronger than his love for us.
We would sit in the other room and roll our eyes
As he yelled at the liberals on TV
“What do you kids know about politics?”
We pretended not to know anything.
It wasn’t worth the discussion.
“Maybe we can put dad’s ashes
in one of those natural urns
that grow into a tree.” I said
“Grow a dad tree?”
“Yeah. A dad tree. He loved trees.”
We planted it in our front yard.
We watched it grow slowly, tacitly
Years passed. Mom passed, too.
We sold the house.
Left it behind.
The tree a budding sapling.
We hoped it could survive