My Word of the Month poem

ANNOUNCEMENT: My thanks again to Steven Withrow for providing such good fun on November 9 with his poetry challenge to parody songs. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s certainly not too late!

Hi everyone,

I’ve been thinking about TALENT, our word for November, which was provided by Rachel Heinrichs. It occurred to me that I see a good example of it every day in my yard. It might be a stretch to bequeath such skill to a plant, but that’s why we have metaphors!

Hidden Talent
David L. Harrison

Marvel at this tree,
broken and stubby,
split down its middle
like a sternum laid open,
heartwood exposed to rot and decay,
its two half-trunks leaning apart
like dying twins trying not to touch,

Yet its withered arms throw out leaves,
withstand battering winds,
hold young birds safe from spring rains.

What wondrous talent to remain upright,
spirit masked by dry tissue,
sucking hard from deep reserves
to greet another year,
one more season.

33 comments on “My Word of the Month poem

    • Matt, I’m glad you like this one. I begged my wife for years to let me replace that tree. Now I’m glad she couldn’t part with it.

    • Good morning, Dear Jeanne,

      It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I value all comments and love to read them. When someone takes the time to leave a remark, I do my best to show my appreciation. I’ll admit that there are times when I can’t cover all the ground, but it’s never because I don’t love to read them.

    • Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your nice comment. I hope the tree makes it through the winter and surprises us again next year. Glad you like the poem.

  1. David, your inspiring poem brought to mind, Joyce Kilmer ‘s
    “I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.”

    This magnificent tree has acquired an added dimension of loveliness, speaks volumes in its body language, and attests to the power of spirit and resilience.
    I love the outstretched boughs and the graceful bow in the foreground.

  2. Talent: The Dark Side

    The blessings of talent are widely known
    But on a cold dark day
    With scratchy throat and achy bone
    Talent will not leave me ‘lone.

    Like a fiend
    It pushes at the small of back.
    Its plan: persistence!
    Its nature racked.
    It hoots and shrieks and wheedles and growls,
    “Hoist it, underling! Get going. NOW!”

    This heartless, wicked Talent insists.
    It sits on my shoulder,
    Sputtering, muttering
    not mild words,
    but strong,
    “Move it along!”

    Mid coughs and wheezes, a throat that burns,
    In vain I dodge these abuses.
    But Talent simply mocks me, spurns,
    “Skip the excuses!”

    So on a cold dark day
    With chill of bone,
    Or cough, or flu, or worse
    When tired, or sore, or plain low down
    just might be
    a curse.

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks very much for pointing out another aspect of talent, the kind that drives and demands and is seldom satisfied. I think the next to last stanza wraps it up nicely: “Skip the excuses!”

  3. I am making some changes in my life, David, & just bought a new home, mostly because of the ancient cottonwood outside the back door. Before I even entered the place, I knew this was mine. I love your poem, creating a tribute to a tree’s persistence in life as talent is hopeful for all of us. Thank you!

    • Dear Linda,

      Lucky cottonwood to have someone to love it and respect it. Have you ever been to Muir Woods? Looking up at those incredible giants helps me find peace. I’m never ready to leave.

      • Yes, I’ve visited Muir woods twice, once with my students-a magical place. We took an afternoon studying a nurse tree, a quiet & contemplative time that I won’t forget. I understand why you don’t want to leave. Awesome job to be the park people there!

  4. Lovely poem, David. Your M.O.W. knew its secrets long before you did, I guess. 🙂 For me, you described aging in general, a tenacious grasp on life, a refusal to let go…maybe it’s just my mindset these days that led me there, but it was a melancholy moment for me – but also happy because those old arms can still hold all the little birdies! 🙂

    • Thank you, Renee. The poem gives me the same feeling and, yes, it is a metaphor. The more I age, the more I seem to look for and find beauty in the process. And, just sometimes, my M.O.W. is right!

      • Great poem David. But, I’m feeling really stupid–I’ve carefully read through the comments and your poem several times and I’m missing the M.O.W. I know you and Renee have this quick banter thing that I sometimes miss, but what does MOW stand for? (metaphor?) Was I sleeping in class?

      • You would NEVER sleep in class, Joy! I just sometimes refer to my darling Sandy as my Mean Old Wife. If she reads this and beats me in my sleep, let this be on your head.

  5. Lovely! My favorite line is “sucking hard from deep reserves.” Also the sternum laid open and the heartwood…. Now I see that others have commented on those particular images. It’s all great!

  6. Good morning, Robin,

    I’m glad you dropped by today and appreciate your kind remarks. I just checked your site and am impressed! If you’re a friend of Vivian Vande Velde’s, give her my best.

  7. David, I love your poem. I have taken several photos at Gastons Resort of a large tree that continues to amaze me. It is hollow with lovely detailed bark. It announces each spring, summer and fall; I am alive to show everyone if you let me be, I will reward you through the seasons.

    • Well hello, Mary Nida! It’s good to hear from you. I’m glad you’ve found the kindred spirit of my tree. I hope that all this talk about them doesn’t turn their heads, or trunks, or whatever a tree would turn.

    • Dear Susan,

      I’m sorry I made your heart hurt I’m glad you approve of the poem. Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s much appreciated.

      • I’m saving this poem of yours, David, as a wonderful example of how a poet views the world. It will come in handy when I am teaching.

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