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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

I am a Tree, too, My Friend

A poem for the upcoming holiday of Tu B'Shevat, the new year for the trees.

Written with gratitude to our silent, rooted companions, who enhance the world around us.

Never take trees for granted. Look carefully at them as you pass. Show kindness to these silent giants.

***


I AM A TREE, TOO, MY FRIEND



I am a tree,

too,

my friend.


On some days I am a white pine

or a sugar maple.

On other days I stand solid as an oak

as glorious as a widened beech,

as graceful as a slender white birch.


Like your delicate meristem,

my fingertips

stretch upward

intuitively reaching for the

infinite light above.


Sunlight glimmers on wet fingers.

Raindrops shimmy downward

as liquid crystals tumble.


I am a tree, too, my friend.

I am your little sister,

blithely stretching along your trunk .


Watch,

as like you,

my skin thickens with age.

It creases and cracks

whites and grays.

It marks a spoonful of wisdom,

but it pales against your silent wisdom

stretched backwards eons.


I am a tree, too, my friend

Liquids rise and fall through both of us

Nourishing us

Breathing and feeding us.


You breath out and I breath in.

I breath out and you breath in.


I am a tree, too, my friend

I have taken off my shoes.

My toes find the earth.

They burrow and dig,

but they barely scratch the surface of the earth.

They cannot root far beneath the earth.

They cannot drink from the waters below.


Oh, my silent friend, I fear that I am not a tree.

No matter how high I stretch my limbs toward the sun.

No matter how I will my trunk to be strong

and how I long to sway and dance in the summer breeze,

my feet will never root in one spot under me.


You, my friend, are destined to remain in one spot.

You are a witness to history;

your commentary the deep creases in your bark,

the crown of your leaves trembling.


It is my fate

to walk upon

the earth,

guard you,

my brothers and sisters.

You will be my roots .

I shall be your voice.


I will fill your silence

with words

and you

must promise to

stand witness

to history.


Continue filling

the world

with your

majestic presence.


Your breath.

Your beauty.

You, who bridge

heaven and earth.

***

Sometimes

I wish I were a tree.





Once, when Rav Abraham Kook was walking in the fields, lost deep in thought, the young student with him inadvertently plucked a leaf off a branch. Rav Kook was visibly shaken by this act, and turning to his companion he said gently, “Believe me when I tell you I never simply pluck a leaf or a blade of grass or any living thing, unless I have to.” He explained further, “Every part of the vegetable world is singing a song and breathing forth a secret of the divine mystery of the Creation.” For the first time the young student understood what it means to show compassion to all creatures. (Wisdom of the Mystics)




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