Willow Tree

Standing outside the front door
of a house my parents used to own
is a willow tree still standing guard
representing the law as we knew it.
Once I ran down the block
to get out of reach of one of its limbs
I heard my mother yell
I’ll see you come around again
take the first strikes
be a man
like Ali with Foreman
stand in there
the pain subsides
the terror does too
all absorbed by a willow tree
that must be black by now at its roots.

The screen doors slammed
the windows broke
racing around in chaotic circles
burr headed children in full throated routes
both hands out in front of them
somehow uncut by the glass
stuff a book down the back of your pants
and it will give off a hollow sound.

A three bedroom house
a thousand square feet
with eight kids repeat
eight kids
what kind of people
can raise eight kids.
It’s the number of infinity darlin
four boys and four girls
A perfect balance at least
until that Estrogen thing
tipped the scales.

If there were ever a living breathing family tree
I would say the willow was ours
for it bent without breaking numerous times
I don’t know if anyone carved their names into it
but through the hole in the hedge
you might buy just a second enough
to duck out of sight before realization set in
and someone was breaking off a limb for you.

Chaos breeds anarchy
but fear at the end of the day
beats respect in a pinch
silence fell upon the room
and the blue light danced against the living room curtains
and I watched from my bedroom door
while Ed Sullivan shewed
or Hee Haw frollicked in the cornfield.

It’s been twenty five years
since I called it my home that town
thirty eight since we moved out of that house
and the pity is I’ve often gone there
looking for something close
to the accident that was created there.
That willow tree I’ve never forgotten
those people I’ve never forgotten
and though its roots are black I’m sure
you couldn’t kill it now even if you wanted.

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  • umbra
    umbraover 4 years ago

    the loam is dark but fertile……

  • Again you’re nuts :) thanks erich

    – bill bell

  • JRGarland
    JRGarlandover 4 years ago

    Ahhh the good old days. LOL Brought back alot of painful memories. We had a bush out back that had the worst stinging branches I ever knew. Well written.

  • Thanks JR :)

    – bill bell

  • autumnwind
    autumnwindover 4 years ago

    wow. awesome nostalgic write. what memories lie within that tree. you have made me curious and filled me with wonder. xoxoxo

  • Thanks Shar glad you liked it :)

    – bill bell

  • Christie  Moses
    Christie Mosesover 4 years ago

    This one brought back memories of willow switches in my past. Well expressed Bill. Painful but with that pain comes growth. xoxox

  • My mo was wicked with those things :) thanks C

    – bill bell

  • hsien-ku
    hsien-kuover 4 years ago

    some trees have the strongest of souls – i had one like this that grew against my back porch in queensland. a huge ominous thing that possums lived in – but it liked me i think. and when i came home from the most godawful job i have ever had, it seemed to sigh to me. it’s shadows against the wall gave me comfort too. to be watched over by a tree is a lovely thought – and it will live in your memory no matter how black the roots get. a beautiful expression of deep remembering.

  • Thanks HK, the willow tree was the peacemaker :), today I think it’s the .38 special

    – bill bell

  • Don’t get the wrong idea from that, I don’t have a .38 special LOL

    – bill bell

  • Ellen Cotton
    Ellen Cottonover 4 years ago

    Beautifully written – such vivid, painful memories “all absorbed by a willow tree”. Strangely, that I also had a willow refuge in my childhood.

  • Thanks ellcot :), I lived in the Bay area back in the mid eighties, wonderful place.

    – bill bell

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