Growing the Giving Tree

I used to read a lot more,

That’s just a hardened fact.

Now what I read is simply for school,

Annotations, blue and black.

 

I remember loving books,

Being read to every night.

I remember some of my favorites,

Their own time in a childhood limelight.

 

By the age of six I could open a book

And be carried to a separate world.

I was the character experiencing adventures:

I was the wizard, I was the traveler, I was the heroic girl.

 

One book in particular was an obsession,

I could never get enough.

The pages were dog eared, the spine broken,

the cover worn and rough.

 

Shel Silverstein was a hero in my lifetime,

From Falling Up to The Missing Piece.

But I couldn’t quench my thirst for one work,

The artistry of The Giving Tree.

 

“Once there was a tree…”

It began, I was hooked from the start.

“And she loved a little boy”,

I still know the book by heart.

 

The boy was kind at first,

Loving and caring for the tree.

She would share her apples and leaves,

He remained a devotee.

 

Her shade was bliss,

Her apples divine,

But soon the interests of the boy changed,

His devotion morphed with time.

 

"I am too big to climb and play" said the boy,

"I want to buy things and have fun.”

Suddenly, the tree was lonely,

He showed gratitude for none.

 

The tree began giving more for him,

The title revealing its bitter touch.

Her branches, her apples, her leaves - all gone.

But, she said, “I love him very much.”

 

He carved their initials into her skin,

That of he and his wife-to-be.

The tree had loved no one but him,

He remained a heartless absentee.

 

The boy stopped visiting,

And when he did it was only to take.

The tree was losing hope now,

She was hurt and broken for his sake.

 

The boy one day got married,

Made a house from her remaining limbs.

The tree then knew she was happy,

For she only loved him.

 

At the very end, the boy is old,

She has almost nothing left.

For the last time, they sat together,

A boy and the stump created through theft.

 

"Well," said the tree, straightening

herself up as much as she could”

She submit herself one final time,

But now she knew that things were good.

 

As a child I read,

Enraged by what the boy had done.

She had given him everything,

He had taken without a ‘thank you’ - I was stunned.

 

Even now, my heart grows heavy,

It beats faster than it should.

It’s just a story, so I think,

But I was so disappointed in the boy’s adulthood.

 

Until I read it again.

 

I flipped through the pages,

The ones I loved so well.

Suddenly, my perspective changed.

Reality struck, my heart fell.

 

If the tree had simply stopped,

If the tree had just said no,

Instead of waiting until she was nothing,

That isn’t how the story would go.

 

She would still be happy,

She would have found someone worthy of.

Instead she gave too much of herself,

relied on mutual kindness of her "true love".

 

It wasn’t until the age of eighteen

That I was carried to a new world.

I was the character experiencing adventures:

I was the tree, I had been the boy, I was the naive girl.

 

My perspective changed that day,

And something in me died.

The downfalls we’ve experienced,

Lies in fault, the tree and I.

 

I had to realize it’s easier for them to take

When you are so willing to give.

You stretch yourself too thin and too fast,

You’re slow to anger and quick to forget and forgive.

 

I used to read a lot more,

That’s just a hardened fact.

But I’m not a kid anymore,

The trunk of my own naivete finally, suddenly, cracked.

 

This poem is about: 
Me
Our world

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