NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 28 My Trees

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Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash.

Hello again! I can’t believe that there are only two more days of this year’s NaPoWriMo. I’m sad to say the least. Today’s prompt was to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favorite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be a first time at the concrete-poem rodeo.

In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem. For example, May Swenson’s poem “Women” mimics curves, reinforcing the poem’s references to motion, rocking horses, and even the shape of a woman’s body. George Starbuck’s “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” is – you guessed it – a sonnet in the shape of a potted Christmas tree.

So, my concrete poem proved difficult to post without the shape shifting when previewed via mobile phone or desktop. What you will find is that I have posted an image of my poem for those reading from mobile apps and a regular copy for those reading from a laptop or desktop. Either way you are reading it, I hope you will be able to detect my “tree” form.

Happy reading!

                                                                     My Trees


                                                                   My                                                      childhood
                                                                                                                   memories
                                                         are                                               full     of 
                                                 trees                                         like the
                                          giant                                      willow
                                    who                                      grew 
                          in the                                      middle
                    of the                               little grove 
             of trees                          hidden 
         behind                      the new 
     condo            development
    It was            there that
I dreamed  of spending 
my adult life
chain-smoking 
cigarettes and 
clacking the keys of 
my old typewriter 
as I cranked out
my next best-selling
novel. Then there was 
the colossal oak on the 
playground--the one whose 
ground roots held me like a 
comforting mother as I watched 
the other children run and play 
together from a disassociated 
distance. The oak was my friend—
my best friend—and I loved her.   
In later years, there was the young
sapling who gave its life to save mine.
It happened when the canoe tipped over,
I slipped quietly into the swirling river, and 
I thought I was dead at sixteen--until I spotted 
my father uprooting a small sapling from the bank.
He held the tree across the river and told me to grab on;
It was then I knew I was safe in the strength of the tree and
my father.        Safe in my childhood memories         safe in the arms       of    trees.  

--cjpjordan

Of Trees and Song

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Thanks to Michael Bryant @purplesulfurstudio for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/g6Pir20bEo0

Today’s prompt honors one of my favorites, Mary Oliver. I was challenged to write a poem based on the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. I needed to try to incorporate specific details while also stating why I found the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

Remembering our lovely day spent among the redwoods, I wrote about them because I will never forget the size of the trees, the wonder walking among them, the nail-biting drive up and down and around hairpin turns, and the stunning beauty brought with the rounding of the bends in the road.

of trees and song

sprawling, mossy overgrowth
living velvet green
reaching, knobby redwoods
house romantic clandestine

whispering, spider and fly
meet in secretive coves
praying, tranquility
hinged on majestic groves

breathing, peace settles
as songbird melodies rise
laughing, i throw my head back
and join the chorus reprise.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Red Maple

Photo Credit: Photo by Gorrin Bel on Unsplash

After talking with my poetry buddy today, I was challenged to write a tanka. The tanka is described as the form of poetry that comprised the majority of Japanese poetry from the ninth to the nineteenth century. In fact, several sources list it as possibly the central genre in Japanese literature. According to one website, the tanka has “prototypes in communal song, in oral literature dating back to the seventh century, or earlier.”

A tanka is structured much like a haiku with each line containing a certain number of syllables. There is no rhyming and no end punctuation used in this form, however, it does make use of a “pivot” or “turning point” line. The third line is the pivot that divides the tanka into two different sections that are joined in the middle in order to tell the whole story.

The syllable breakdown for the five lines looks like this: 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7

Lately I’ve really been pining for my red maple. It’s my favorite tree, and Monday it must come down. In full disclosure, this may not be my last Red-Maple-Inspired Poem. I will be pining the loss of it for years to come.

vast red towering
gnarled trunk with knotty whorls
a testimony
to holy righteous living
today we fell it

Short and bittersweet…

The Beech Tree

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Photo Credit: Photo by Richard Loader on Unsplash

Earlier this spring, we discovered that our beautiful red maple tree had finally gotten so large that its roots were encroaching on the foundation of the house. In fact, those determined roots had begun to push their way into any cracks or crevices they found, pushing aside mortar and widening cracks in the cement blocks.

Just thinking about cutting down that tree grieved my spirit.

Last summer, I spent many a summer afternoon laying on the deck furniture and watching the sky through the lacy red curtains of leaves. I wrote poetry there, I sang songs, and told stories. Cutting down the tree felt like cutting down a piece of our family history.

But when the foundation expert came and confirmed that if we didn’t cut down the tree, we would suffer irreparable damage to our home’s foundation that would cost thousands to repair, I knew it was time.

We have done all the preparation now–taking up the back deck, removing all the landscaping rocks, resituating other plants and flowers. The backyard seems so barren. My solace has been looking up potential replacement trees, shrubbery, and flowers.

In my research, I discovered some lovely facts about beech trees. I wish I had the space to plant one in our garden, but I’m afraid I would end up in the same predicament I am in now as beech trees grow in groves and 60-80 feet tall.

After watching this video of a beech tree unfolding, this poem was born.

Life begins with planting.

The Beech Tree

The process begins
with planting,
always with planting,
then tending
and harvesting—
nothing neglected,
everything perfected
in its time.

The work is slow and tedious;
the work requires patience—

like the building
of a leaf
first with vernation—
leaves folded
packed tightly
intricately engineered
inside a tiny bud.

Then at the first hint
of summery sun,
the magical unfurling
of beech leaves
baptizing the garden
in spring green.

Finally plucking
the tender leaves—
sweet-sour taste
hitting the tongue—
a portent of spring.

The beech tree announces
the end of Blackberry winter
and it all began
with planting a seed.

—a draft by Carla Picklo Jordan

What are your favorite landscaping greens (or reds or yellows or golds)?