Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Quaking Aspen

Here is my dying Quaking Aspen tree
Now age 20, dwarfed and smothered of light
By a giant Coast Maple, there before its time. Once,
it was a sapling planted by a couple, the ex-
husband called it the stick, a mean-spirited nick-
name for such a lovely being.  As it grew, it set
out new saplings up and down the yard—its
young, for which there was no room. The mower
chewed them up, and as the Aspen grew it shared
fewer of them until it gave up on making a grove,
attending to its own struggle in the Maple's shade.


Quaking, shimmering leaves on a summer afternoon
make music like no other sound.  Goldfinches sing along,
preparing nests for their young, then begin losing their
bright yellow coloring in late autumn as the Aspen flashes
leaves of the brightest gold, as if borrowing color from
the birds. Then the leaves fall, and the tree sleeps and
waits for spring. 

This spring was the Aspen's last, with few brave leaves
on bare boughs that still stretch for the sun.  I will
burn incense in its bark, will sit against its strong white
trunk—maybe will sing to it—before the workers come.


Written for dVerse Poetics: 9th year Anniversary hosted by Brian Miller, whose encouraging anniversary prompt inspired my first poem in nearly a year.   My case of writer's block has been debilitating and I thank him for coaxing something, just anything, out of me!



Anonymous said...

I am glad that you will sing to it, and be with it before the workers come and I assume it will be no more. A couple years ao my parents took out a tree in their yard that was a staple of my younger years. It was a sad moment.

I am glad you wer able to shake off the writers block. I have not written seriously in years so this was a stretch for me.

The contrast between your ex-husbands ribbing of the tree, and your compassion in the end set this apart for me.

Grace said...

So beautiful Lydia, as our journey through life's ups and downs. I love how it grew from sapling, its beauty through all the seasons until it is ready to be cut down. Thank you for coming out of your hibernation and writing again.

Take care!

Lydia said...

Brian and Grace, thank you for your kind words, for visiting me. I'd forgotten the "stretch," as you described it, Brian, and the comfort of having encouraging words. Ironically, early this evening I was visiting with my next-door neighbors after they shared homemade sushi with me....and we decided that the boughs I am having removed from the giant maple tree (hanging over their driveway) and a few hanging over my yard might possibly give the Quaking aspen a chance to heal with additional light. We determined that it looks strong, albeit nearly bare of leaves, and the birds so love even the dead branches. With their validation, I decided to give it another year at least.
(This is but one example of how quarantine/isolation from others has made me indecisive, nutty, even!)

Unknown said...

Your love for the aspen tree is heartening. When you've lived with the presence of another being for so many seasons, to see it struggling is tough. Very good to hear you're going to give it a chance to recover by trimming the limbs on the maple. Maples are notorious takers of sunlight!
Lisa at

Lydia said...

Lisa ~ Sweet comment; thanks so much. I feel heartened to have made this decision. And I sure didn't know that about Maples. The Maple is a grand tree in my yard, very old, and providing needed shade for my neighbors and me. It will hardly notice the boughs that are to be removed near the Aspen. fingers crossed

kj said...

lydia! I feel like I'm home again on the blogs! maybe? I hope so. I miss it here.

you wrote this in July and since you. have lost more limbed treasures. I have no doubt the trees and the universe appreciate your care.



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