Each day on my questioning walk,
I stop to commiserate with
a not-too-aged birch that bends low
over the road, as if bowing to the pressures
of our natures’ all too real. In his case,
twining vines have shackled the leafy serf
into horizontal servitude of their bidding.

It reminds me for all the world
of some slavish supplicant begging
absolution for a sin known only
to the choking confessors that demand
obeisance and a contrite posture
of verdant contrition. Does a tree
know the longing for liberty?

Life bent me low for a longer time,
and some of its depressing weight
I’ve already cast off,
which the birch can’t.
It’s tied down by those vines
clinging like children
whining their way to a new puppy.

Or maybe like a youthful mistake
that casts a shadow so heavy
its history bends us into arboreal
arthritic old men, our faces parallel
to the roadway and, only by peering overtop
our spectacles, can we see what lies
on the path ahead.

I’ve considered cutting the birch’s Lilliputian
vines of imprisonment, but I’m afraid
my Gulliver doppelgänger will stay bent over,
and this middle-aged rebellious Defoe will lose hope
that I can spring back to upright independence
once I hone my shears, to sever the vines
of fear, anger and a twisted sense of duty.

This poem was written in response to my colleague Stu McPherson’s prompt for a poem off rebellion over at dVerse Poets Pub. In this case, a tree and I fight our respective natures in order to stand tall again.


11 thoughts on “Twined

  1. first…i love the idea of a questioning walk…have them myself, just they never had a title.. and i like the identification with the tree…there’s much in nature that resembles our own state of mind and sometimes not easy to stand tall.. a felt write joe

  2. Amen….I know it, I feel it, and what a great vehicle for your message….lovely sprawling narrative style as well…..and I love, same as above, the idea of a ‘questioning walk’…,they are so so necessary!!! Thanks for writing, posting and sharing Joe!

  3. nice thanks for taking us on that walk with you…i def can understand the tree…and when the chains removed staying doubled there…made me think of those freed and how hard it is to return to life for them…everything being different

  4. That poor tree…I feel for it, but we have a choice whether to stay shackled or not…it’s wonderful when we can break free of them. Great metaphor & lovely poem, Joe 🙂 xo

  5. Wow, Joe; just wow! I thought I was lost in the confused burdens of life, and now I’m found! What an ending too! How powerful good poetry can be at eliciting such epic observations from a moment of what would seem so insignificant to most observers. But not to those with a keen eye for linking together all the clues the nature lays in our peth; not to good poets, not to you, Joseph Hesch.

  6. I like the forthright manner in which restraining factors are defined & dealt with. “… I can spring back to upright independence/ once I hone my shears, to sever the vines/ of fear, anger and a twisted sense of duty.” I guess each has to search & define one’s own restraining factors from within and set process of getting free….Lovely write Joseph.

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