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
-- 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.