When I was younger, I used to climb a tree in the front yard to read in. I could just barely make it to my perch, so I would stick the book in my mouth to climb up. Somewhere, in the corner of a bookshelf, waits some slim children’s paperbacks with the impression of my teeth in them. When I wanted to get down, I’d toss the book down to a clear patch of grass. Kids aren’t always kind to books.

The reason I climbed that tree was that I loved being as tall as adults, or even taller. Maybe that’s why some people, children or not, seek heights. When you spend all your time looking up at people, a different perspective is welcome. Certainly, I loved being carried on someone’s shoulders. It didn’t matter that a mistimed duck under a door frame threatened my skull, any more than it mattered that one misplaced foot meant I’d follow my book’s (quicker and less safe) path down from the tree. Clumsy as I am sometimes, my arboreal perch had its dangers. Certainly I fell a time or two, or skinned a knee in my ascent or descent. It didn’t matter – as often as I could, I’d be up there, bark pressing into my skin as I devoured a story.

When you want to be alone, to think or read, where do you go? Do you seek tree branches, balconies, or hill-top views? Or do you like to burrow into a room, a chair, or a tucked-away alcove?

The trees of my childhood have changed, as things tend to. I wrote this poem a few years ago, and there’s now a new addition – a young tree waiting to grow big enough for children to climb it.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Three Trees

Three trees in my front yard

fifteen years ago

The one on the left

cut down

Shoots grew from its base

now another tree

hides the stump

The middle tree survived

moderate pruning

It reaches to the sky

thick in girth and years

gray weathered bark

scabs grown over severed limbs

The right tree

rotted inside

cut down

did not re-grow

Only the stump remains

surrounded by flowers

and a statue of a little rabbit

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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