BY JOYCE KILMER
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
source: Poetry (August 1913).
I’ve always loved that poem, and thought of it over the years every time I planted or looked at a tree.
Growing up where there was an abundance of foliage, especially trees. It was my quest after moving to Kansas to populate our Ranchette with as many as I could.
My husband likes the open spaces that the Kansas Prairie provides, but I missed the forests and rolling hills with hardwoods, that turned brilliant reds, oranges, sepia, yellows and purple during the crisp fall season.
During the early eighties, my dad brought me a Sugar Maple that he personally dug up from his Iowa soil. It was only about five feet tall when he helped me plant it. I have to admit I had little hope that it would make it through our hot-dry, windy summers.
But I nurtured it, as best I could, and eventually it began to grow at a steady rate. I knew they, hard woods, grew slow… so I’d check it every spring to measure its progress.
I kept the weeds, and grass from growing around it. I aerated the soil under it, and watered it when it looked parched.
Year-by-year I could see it was pushing its way through the flint and limestone beneath to reach a water source. And as it did, it grew a little stronger.
I would take pictures and send them to my dad, and whenever he’d visit, he would walk around its perimeter and say, “It’s really got a nice shape…I think it’s going to make it!”
I kept it trimmed, like he told me.
I talked to it, and even stroked its trunk.
I’m a believer that trees, and all plants are truly alive and need encouragement.
This is the tree today.
I call it, “Grandpa Tree” after my Dad.
And every time I pass by and look up, I think of him and smile.
It’s a good thing to plant a tree in memory of someone you love.
That tree, keeps my Dad close and in my heart.