In the park there stands an old oak.
I know not how aged it is,
But it was here before I was
And it will remain long after I do not.
Every morning I pass by its thick trunk,
The oak waves its branches, goodbye.
And every night I drunkenly stumble home,
It’s standing still, in silent judgment.
Even when I dash past and miss its farewell
In the rush to catch the last possible train
To $9.50 an hour misery with no future,
I know the stoic oak is standing there,
Gayly laughing at my fleeting and meaningless struggles.
And when I’m huddled under warm blankets,
Unable to face the depressingly cold world
In the dead of winter, the oak stands erect
Defiantly declaring, “I am not yet through!”
Then the warm spring comes,
And buds of green shine as proof
That the would be murderer, winter,
Has yet again failed to slay the old oak.
And in full bloom and life it sways,
Dancing about in the soft spring breeze
As young birds grow strong upon its branches
And cicadas scream from the side of its trunk
Like terrified climbers clinging to a rock face.
Then the summer rains come,
And the oppressively hot air grows thick and humid
And weighs heavy, making the leaves droop
And bringing insects in search of respite
To the cool shade and water of the oak.
Thus in the prime of green and luscious life,
The tree is battered, bitten, and beaten
Down to a skeleton of brown bark bones.
And when the final days of autumn warmth
Declare the insects’ feast over,
Cool wind sheds the emaciated old oak of its last leaf,
And leaves it bare to face the cold again.
And barely clinging to life, it stands,
Through the long, depressingly cold winter, silently shouting with fiery fury,
“You have failed yet again, oh ageless Master!”
And I realize winter, whom I mistakenly accused,
Was only a seasonal disguise of the enemy
With whom all mortals must battle.
And while the oak’s cyclical struggle
Might differ from my own in length,
He stands, like I, waging absurd war,
Desperately clinging to an unseen hope
Until the very last joint of his little finger
Shrieks in agony and is about to give way,
Only to survive and do it again another day.
I look at the old oak and see myself,
Battered, bitten, and defeated,
And feel a looming fear beyond the knowable horizon.
What if the cool respite of winter
Does not come soon enough this year?”
Thank you for reading. Comments and criticisms are more than welcome!
Read more at Rafiki’s Nikki.