The sky over Marblehead burst Beat down on rocky headlands Front Street, Fort Sewall This breastwork on Gale’s Head A fist of searing air slammed into the Neck. Microburst, so fierce the boats moored in the harbor Danced in chaotic missteps Like a child had reached into the ocean and disturbed it Aiming to stir up bubbles, soaking the floor. The thunder of wind attacked Marblehead’s Giving Tree Instantly recognizable from land and sea this tree Shattered at her very core in one instant We assumed it too big to fall. You remind me, It was here that invasions churned the sea with warring French, British Determined to storm They were held off by the whalers, fishers, those Yankees seasoned with grit invaders made to retreat. A sapling took root at some point during the Revolution Boughs spread to shade, to welcome, The great canopy stretched and grew from the bones and blood in our salt-weathered bedroom community The tree waited, watched over Marblehead harbor, Cape Ann As any mother might. Ocean washes in then out, a threat, a soothing wave, a small eddy inviting play You remind me We walked under this tree in the deepest snow, drank Winter Ale, In the summer, we picked lobsters clean, watched the Tall Ships moor. Our boy, your girl, together we watched the fireworks over the Atlantic Told the children its safe here, go, play, meet up at the end here, under the Giving Tree. She is a Queen now for Disney, he lives in Japan. Together, we hung 1000 rainbow origami cranes from the tree limbs, for the wedding. I forget there was ever a time I did not know you but you remind me, There was a time. Before I had tasted the ocean Before I knew tuna could be steak, not canned Before I had heard of lobster bakes, catboats, necks in rocky shores, I read Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree, to 4 th graders at my mother’s elementary school. The children did not agree about the moral of the story -- someone will always be there for you even though you feel like you're alone. -- the Earth still loves us, even when we kill it with our greed. -- we suffer consequences of poor choices. -- a dead stump has a purpose. -- trees are very useful. -- love makes no sense. We could all agree -- the tree gave more than it could afford, --That the boy took more than he needed. I remind myself, Silverstein hated happy endings. You remind me, All things can change in an instant.
Rondalyn Whitney is a poet, writer, occupational therapist, and researcher. Her writing narrates the lived experience of defiant healing. She writes across a broad range of genres from scholarly journals, professional texts and creative works. Her poem Amazing Grace appears in the anthology The Healer’s Burden, essay Is this The Wife in Intima and Time is a Fluid in The Examined Life Journal. She holds an advanced certificate in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University.