“remember that tree and be most of all free//Lessons from my Mother, 6”
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This one is hard for me because anytime my mind drifts back to the morning under that tree (yes, the one in the picture), I’m shaken and hollow all over again. 🌳♥️
Remember that tree, bitty girl,
the one in Ghana with her arms spread
wide out of the dusty red earth
and surrounded by patches of green feathers
sprouting from the ground,
where there’s nothing but big,
blue African sky and all her baby
trees around for miles,
and the leaves rustle only when the wind
carries her secrets elsewhere ?
And remember sitting beneath that tree
the morning baby Mercy shut her eyes,
and we’d been with her all night,
with her mama and her daddy,
and the way Stephen’s cry was so hollow
when he carried his gone little girl out of that hut
as the sun rose?
And remember while we were sitting there
recalling how to breathe and be
we watched that colony of fire ants
go about their business like a little
angel hadn’t just been swallowed up
in a mosquito bite?
Listen, you’ll be all of those things one time or another,
my precious girl, so hold on—
sometimes you’ll be Mercy, struck by some danger
you didn’t see flying in from the distance, something
that wouldn’t kill a person halfway across the earth
but has killed you just the same.
And sometimes you’ll be Stephen with your
chest cavity empty, carved out, with room for nothing
but your sorrow, your cries.
And sometimes you’ll be us, experiencing hell on
someone else’s behalf, lungs full of smoke and wrath and sadness,
and god forbid, but sometimes you may very well be the mosquito.
And sometimes you will be the fire ants, too, or the dust or
the green feathers sprouting from the earth.
Most of all, though, be the tree,
make that choice—arms wide open,
shelter for the weary,
praising peace, face and fingers to the sky—
and plant your feet into people and passion,
be grounded, be rooted,
be most of all free. .
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