The old woman, I saw, stood in the glen
out behind my house.
She’d stood there for hours, very still
and quiet as a mouse.
I could tell from the look on her wizened face
she was lost in times gone by,
and a question was born in my curious mind,
I had to ask her why?
The sun shone brightly from summer’s skies
as I brought her water cool.
Approaching I felt quite out-of-place,
quite literally a fool.
She took the drink and walked with me
back to my patio.
As we sat down she started to share
her stories from long ago.
At first she said she had long lived
where a neighbour lives, next door.
She was born there, is what she said,
almost ninety years before.
The reason she’d moved, ten years ago,
she quietly told me then,
was a sad story, but I should know,
her son hung himself in this glen.
She took my hand, told me not to fear,
he’d had many reasons for this ‘crime’.
It was long ago and it would seem,
there was a woman involved at the time.
Another glass of water clear
she swallowed and continued to say
how she’d come to terms with the loss of her son,
in these, her final days.
The family that she had raised,
with her husband of many years
had pick-nicked often on summer’s days
in the glen, she said in tears.
Sadly her husband had also passed
over the rainbow bridge
While driving home on the street outside,
he’d crashed right through the hedge.
The tree that stopped him still stood tall,
but sadly, he did not.
How long ago, she wasn’t sure,
but she’d never ever forgot
how the trunk of the tree, for years afterwards
still looked covered in his blood.
For weeks and months she’d cried and prayed
but had survived, thank God!
At this point in the story
I asked her if she would
join me for a glass of wine?
She smiled and said she could.
Red liquid in stemmed glasses stood
on the table as she went on.
Her story continued, in reverse,
of days that now were gone.
A swing had hung from a lower branch
of the oak tree in the past.
Her youngest daughter had loved that swing,
loved to swing on it, really fast.
One day, her man was still alive,
Lucy failed at dinner to appear.
They’d found her body, lifeless,
at the foot of the tree, quite near.
I asked the old woman, astounded,
why not simply chop it down?
She told me how, when her man was at war,
around it yellow ribbons she’d bound.
At the foot of the tree, then not so tall,
her first dog rested in his grave.
The tree that grew beside it
always gave her Spot some shade.
Our wine was almost finished,
the night was closing in.
She told me against the sapling tree
her first lover had kissed her chin.
Her father had been a woodsman
a carpenter by trade.
As a child she had sat there beside him
while wooden toys he made.
She seemed to suddenly realise
that day had turned to night.
As she stood to take her leave of me
she said it had been a delight
to tell her story, finally,
after way too many years.
One piece of her puzzle still remained
of her and her grandmother dear.
It had been on a summer’s day like this
more than eighty-five years in the past.
She had stood in the glen with her grandmother,
a bit scared of the shadows cast
by the mighty trees around them,
royal oaks, wide and tall.
She’d held on tightly to grandmother’s hand,
feeling frightened and very small.
Together they had hunkered down
beneath the frightening trees.
A hole they’d dug with efforts joined
and an acorn planted, you see?
She’d watched that oak grow tall and strong
for many years in life.
They’d shared so many memories
of love as well as strife.
She said farewell as she strode off,
I watched ’til darkness took her.
Then back onto my patio went I
feeling restless and quite shook up.
The following day the work-crew would come
clearing trees for homes being built.
There was no way the lady could have known,
but her oak was being killed.
This is my entry to Thursday Poet’s Rally Week 48.
The following participation awards were given out to participants in Bluebell Books Short Story Slam Week 5 to promote Creative Writing for Children’s Literature:
I have been awarded the Jingle and Promising Poet’s Café’s Perfect Poet Award for Week 49, which I humbly accept.