Willow

“If you don’t like where you are, then move – you are not a tree,”
you say, even though you know I might as well be;
this is where I have grown, from seed to tree, and so
I have these roots that keep me here indefinitely.

I have become the weeping willow
whose arms I used to dangle from
during the pink twilights of my childhood,
swinging precariously over the rat-infested brook below,
with its abandoned supermarket trolley
and occasional dead body
inches from my shoeless feet.

Apparently I had the world at my feet then,
but I remember the drunkard’s bloated corpse better.

Being this tree I have seen so many things:
innocence and tragedy, and such agony,
beautiful things and unspeakable things,
and the funeral corteges that travel slowly
to the cemetery on the hilltop that will one day
house my family.

My arms provide shelter for all,
for men, for monsters,
for men who are monsters,
for the faithful birds that sleep on my shoulders;
but as the years have ticked on
no one has ever thought to protect me,
no one considered where they’d hide or play
if one day I was suddenly gone.

I am tired now, weathered and worn,
older and wiser, still stuck in the same place
in which I was born, growing quietly, reluctantly.

I wait for the day that they’ll put me out of my misery
and chop me down entirely.

I’ve seen them before with their ladders and chainsaws,
coming to hack me to pieces,
but instead they butchered one of my friends,
the one with more obvious diseases.

Until that moment when they put me down
I must remain here,
stand my ground,
sad,
steadfast,
exhausted,

my skinny tentacles bearing the weight
of the thousand children who come here to play
and the dogs who lay down at my feet,
and the homeless guys who come here to sleep,
and I’ll support the back of the girl who’s never been kissed
(and support her again when she loses her virginity
although she doesn’t know that yet).

But honestly, when I am gone
I don’t even think that the rats will miss me.
The cricketers and the kite-flyers,
the posers and the golfers and the first-time bike-riders,
they don’t really see me, they just see a tree,
a source of shade, a place to get laid,
a surface to carve your initials.

I may be the weeping willow tree,
but nobody will ever weep for me.

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