Poetry: Saying Goodbye

The Waldorf school my daughter graduated from last week names each class after a tree. That tree becomes the class name, a symbol to rally the class together and form them into a cohesive unit. I wrote this poem to honor her teacher and the Linden tree class. The image was drawn on the chalkboard by her lovely teacher on their very first day together. I hope you enjoy it.


Under the Linden Tree

I. Branches and Leaves

Swept forth into the strong branches 
of the Linden tree, you call out “look at me”
and “it’s not fair” straining to be heard among 
the others. Within your fellow heart-shaped
leaves you found symmetry, serrated edges—your
pointed tips sharpened by your proximity to 
magic.

Noisy bees circled, drawn by your
sweetness, your softness transformed by 
storms into hardened beauty carved into 
any form you like. Tilia, basswood, lime—
your names ring out like justice and peace
dancing around the base of graceful towering
magic.

Seasons danced happily through your 
green leaves, braced together and held firm
by the juggling trunk’s deep roots far deeper
than any tempest could shake. Tiny creamy 
yellow flowers burst forth in bundles, hanging 
tight to the tree with ambrosial scented, delicate
magic.

Youth green fullness, brash and vividly bold,
gave way to golden autumn’s crisp firmness
curled tight together clinging on for one more
precious moment. Yet, breezes come to transform
one into many, flying on fitted spiraling wings from
your fertile orchard, singing the forever song of Linden
magic.

II. Trunk

Blown into an orchard, banded cord thick with
butterflies, steady roots plant deep in slippery soil 
ripe with crawling, noisy seekers crying out with
“whys” and “how comes.” Beneath the Linden
branches the red-winged cardinal’s two-part whistle 
sings of beginnings, suns, moons—ancient woody 
magic.

Gathered together under loosely woven branches
communing and feasting wildness transforms into 
dancing movement. Light streaks through limbs to
cover crowns as Jack Frost frolics with snowflakes as
hands, melting hardness into puddles of kindred
kindness. Leafy bunches become conical, balanced
magic.

Ridged, furrowed scaly bark grows and smooths  
until shining with etched runes it reaches across
fast-moving water to capture sacred geometric
truths within bright colored folds. Bears prowl 
near, scratching fears, stretching up toward 
cascading waters, ravens, dragons, stones–Earth
magic.

Winds blow birds nests nestled into grooves worn 
smooth by patient hands. Across distances the song
remains strong, drawing the Linden into itself, singing
melodies deeply woven through delicate leafy veins
forever connected, forever entwined, forever part of 
sunlight’s loving embrace, warmth wrapped in bonded
magic.

The blanket

This was written for a dear friend who is looking for some way to reach her sister in the darkness. May it touch you as well. 

The blanket

I stand still and try to disappear into the darkness around me. The cold is unbearable and soon my body begins to shake in search of some warmth or light.

Finding none, I curse everything and everyone. In desperation, I gather up all my pain and begin to knit together a blanket. Weaving in every insult, every punch, the horrible unspeakable things, the shame and the evil I know all too intimately.

I step back and look at my blanket. It is beautiful, a complex knit filled with all the colors of sorrow and despair. I fling it around my shoulders, and like a superhero, it gives me the identity I so crave.

Now I am someone special because of my pain. I am a survivor. I am not numb anymore and I am alive. The blanket makes me think and feel. I spit in the face of everyone who has hurt me.

No longer shivering, I parade around in my blanket for all to see.

“Look at me!” I cry out in joy. “Look at how beautiful I am now.”

I sleep curled up in my blanket, the softness making me feel comfortable and safe. I never let it out of my sight. When others try to get near me, snap, I fling the stitches in their face. Only I know the truth of my pain. Only my blanket can protect me.

Over time though, the blanket becomes worn, heavy and the stitches start to unravel. I desperately cling to it, but the power seems to be fading and the cold and darkness reaches me again.

Huddling under the blanket with tears streaming down my face, the blanket refuses to comfort me anymore. It mocks me now and I get angry.

I look until I find something else to give me comfort.

Then something else.

Then something else.

They all offer a moment of warmth.

Just a moment.

I lay down and now the blanket is so heavy I cannot move. My body is being pushed into the earth and the fabric is cutting into my skin. I pray for death to take me away.

Then I hear a voice quietly whispering my name over and over. I recognize this voice instantly and recoil from it.

No. Go away. I’m too damaged. Too broken. Just leave me.

But the voice continues to whisper over and over and then gently tugs at my blanket.

“I don’t need help,” I yell and pull the suffocating blanket so tight around my face that I can barely breathe.

He whispers my name again and I feel the blanket slowly peeling away from my body. I tug against it one more time and then let go.

All at once He takes the blanket and flings it onto His own shoulders. Through tears I roll over and see Him smiling down at me.

“I will carry this now,” He says.

He reaches His arms out to me and without thinking I leap into them.

He puts a robe around my shoulders and it is the warmest, softest thing I have ever felt.

“Walk with me,” He says.

I do.

I feel so light and free. The air is fresh, the colors bright and everything feels different.

I am no longer alone.

I never really was.

He tells me this walk will never be easy and I will be tempted to weave a new blanket over and over again. The pain, darkness and cold will forever chase me, but I don’t have to live in fear anymore.

He has my blanket. He has my hand.

I am not alone.

I am a child of God and He loves me.

Although I feel unworthy, I accept this love and this gift.

Now, I proudly wear my robe for all to see and remind myself daily to let Him carry my blanket.

I don’t need it.

I am free.