October 9: “The Giving Tree”

Once there was a tree….
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree….
very much.
And the tree was happy.
But time went by.
And the boy grew older.
And the tree was often alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree
and the tree said, “Come, Boy, come and
climb up my trunk and swing from my
branches and eat apples and play in my
shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play” said
the boy.
“I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “but I
have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in
the city. Then you will have money and
you will be happy.”

And so the boy climbed up the
tree and gathered her apples
and carried them away.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time….
and the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back
and the tree shook with joy
and she said, “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk
and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” said the boy.
“I want a house to keep me warm,” he said.
“I want a wife and I want children,
and so I need a house.
Can you give me a house?”
“I have no house,” said the tree.
“The forest is my house,
but you may cut off
my branches and build a
house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches
and carried them away
to build his house.
And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time.
And when he came back,
the tree was so happy
she could hardly speak.
“Come, Boy,” she whispered,
“come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,”
said the boy.
“I want a boat that will
take me far away from here.
Can you give me a boat?”
“Cut down my trunk
and make a boat,” said the tree.
“Then you can sail away…
and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk
and made a boat and sailed away.
And the tree was happy
… but not really.

And after a long time
the boy came back again.
“I am sorry, Boy,”
said the tree,” but I have nothing
left to give you –
My apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak
for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,”
said the tree. ” You
cannot swing on them – ”
“I am too old to swing
on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone, ” said the tree.
“You cannot climb – ”
“I am too tired to climb” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree.
“I wish that I could give you something….
but I have nothing left.
I am just an old stump.
I am sorry….”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy.
“just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
“well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

— Shel Silverstein

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March 14: “The Friend”

The friend lives half in the grass
and half in the chocolate cake,
walks over to your house in the bashful light
of November, or the forceful light of summer.
You put your hand on her shoulder,
or you put your hand on his shoulder.
The friend is indefinite. You are both
so tired, no one ever notices the sleeping bags
inside you and under your eyes when you’re talking
together about the glue of this life, the sticky
saturation of bodies into darkness. The friend’s crisis
of faith about faith is unnerving in its power
to influence belief, not in or toward some other
higher power, but away from all power in the grass
or the lake with your hand on her shoulder, your hand
on his shoulder. You tell the friend the best things
you can imagine, and every single one of them has
already happened, so you recount them
of great necessity with nostalgic, atomic ferocity,
and one by one by one until many. The eggbirds whistle
the gargantuan trees. The noiserocks fall twisted
into each other’s dreams, their colorful paratrooping,
their skinny dark jeans, little black walnuts
to the surface of this earth. You and the friend
remain twisted together, thinking your simultaneous
and inarticulate thoughts in physical lawlessness,
in chemical awkwardness. It is too much
to be so many different things at once. The friend
brings black hole candy to your lips, and jumping
off the rooftops of your city, the experience.
So much confusion — the several layers of exhaustion,
and being a friend with your hands in your pockets,
and the friend’s hands in your pockets.
O bitter black walnuts of this parachuted earth!
O gongbirds and appleflocks! The friend
puts her hand on your shoulder. The friend
puts his hand on your shoulder. You find
a higher power when you look.

— Matt Hart

March 4: “Starting the Subaru at Five Below”

After 6 Maine winters and 100,000 miles,
when I take it to be inspected

I search for gas stations where they
just say beep the horn and don’t ask me to

put it on the lift, exposing its soft
rusted underbelly. Inside is the record

of commuting: apple cores, a bag from
McDonald’s, crushed Dunkin’ Donuts cups,

a flashlight that doesn’t work and one
that does, gas receipts blurred beyond

recognition. Finger tips numb, nose
hair frozen, I pump the accelerator

and turn the key. The battery cranks,
the engine gives 2 or 3 low groans and

starts. My God it starts. And unlike
my family in the house, the job I’m

headed towards, the poems in my briefcase,
the dreams I had last night, there is

no question about what makes sense.
White exhaust billowing from the tail pipe,

heater blowing, this car is going to
move me, it’s going to take me places.

— Stuart Kestenbaum