The Old Oak Tree

An old oak tree alone in a field

Planted and numb
Dulled & knotted dark bark 

With jaded branches winding in every direction

Providing perfectly impenetrable protection
And criss-crossing twigs that sharply contrast 

Against the increasing weight of a cold, dry, grey sky
An old oak tree without any leaves

Without birds and nests and squirrels and chipmunks

Without any signs of life

Despite the promise of Spring’s arrival
And all the life it will bring

The oak is too weak to recover
From winter’s last grasp
It doesn’t even try

Days pass, then months, then years
The oak never changes

Nor the sky, grey, dry, and cold
Nor the field, empty and alone
Even the wind stops visiting

As silence surrounds it
It closes its eyes as it waits for the end

That is, until she arrived

At first her arrival confused the old oak
Which had become quite accustomed to its solitude

She had found a particularly comfortable spot between two roots
Where she sat tucked underneath a blanket and read her books
And puzzled her crosswords
And sketched her feelings
Some days she just listened to music,
And some days she just scrolled on her phone
The oak hadn’t felt warmth in a long time
Confusion became curiosity 
The old oak, ever so squinting, began to open its eyes
Anticipating her warmth whenever she wasn’t by its side

One day, and quite unexpectedly
The oak felt a drop, and then two, and then three
The cold, dry, grey sky was uncharacteristically warm and wet
Before long drops became a sprinkle which then became a shower

Afraid the shower would frighten away his companion 
The oak did the only thing it still remembered how to do
It grew one leaf, then two, then three, then more
Before long every one of it branches had leaves

When she arrived the next day to the branches full of green
She smiled and spoke her first words, “Oh there you are”
Before settling in to her familiar, newly shaded, nook

The oak’s leaves were working
They gave her protection from the rain
Kept her warm and dry
But they did even more
Absorbing the Sun’s energy
A Sun the old oak had forgotten
Had always been there, just obscured from its view
The oak, feeling the sky’s pull
For the first time in a long time
Began to grow again

A few more weeks and she arrives
Tools in hand
“Time we started taking care of these loose branches” she said to herself
Within ears-reach of the oak
She tended to the tree’s wellbeing
And she sang while she worked, as the oak basked in her attention
She had even attracted her own back up singers
As the sparrows, chipmunks, and squirrels returned 
To make their own forever homes amongst the branches of the once solitaire oak

The old oak tree, no longer alone, 
No longer feeling the weight of death, but rather the pull of life
Wanted to thank the woman for everything she had given it
For the life she saved
By being by its side
By her warmth, care, and reassurance
And for the fact that she gave
The most important gift anyone can give
A reason to want to be grow
A reason to want to be alive
A reason to want to thrive

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