Yesterday I watched branches
Being severed from an old, majestic tree
in my neighbor’s yard
Its roots screaming across
A small, almost well-manicured lawn.
What did that tree say to the surrounding bushes?
Wanting them to understand that imperfections
do not define a tree (still) standing tall?
That body…my body
Patterns of speech only understood
when someone is listening,
as arms and legs try desperately
to stay healthy.
I imagined the tree wrestling
as it welcomed missing limbs – parts
that once touched the sky…
confident in its depths of passion.
At 75, I think have grown old,
Yet, not unlike that tree, I yearn
for renewed life; enriched by my
differences, unapologetic for what
I can no longer do.
I am determined to flourish –
Strong in my desire to stand tall
Safe as I rest in the arms
of the ones I love.
Laureen Summers has been writing poetry since the 1970s. Her chapbook, Contender of Chaos, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020. A woman with cerebral palsy, she grew up in New York and Puerto Rico. In the 1970s, following a move to Washington, DC, she joined “Mass Transit,” a poetry group in Washington, DC. She is currently a member of “Writing a Village,” a writing workshop in Takoma Park, MD. In addition to writing poetry, she is a weaver of wall hangings and works as Project Director of Entry Point!, a program for undergraduates and graduates with disabilities majoring in STEM fields, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC. Laureen is married to Earl Shoop, whom she met at “Mass Transit.” They live in Silver Spring, MD and have one daughter and two grandchildren.
Image: “Twisted Tree” by Alan McGregor under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.