This Time

Three years ago we drove
past trash on a mountainside
above a laurel-shrouded stream;
junked cars punctuated
unfinished dreams;
second homes dozed
amid abandoned trailers;
a faded church’s members
congregated in a graveyard.
Pavement stopped before signs
led to a Christmas tree farm.
We parked, ate a cold picnic,
scorched our tongues on
hot chocolate. Ringing light
struck the hillside eye-level.
We looked up and down,
then left without a tree.
We drove out a different route.
A vacant stone house
stared after us, watched us
pass a field of young firs
to find a tree elsewhere
while our perfect tree waited.
This year I knelt within
earshot of the silent house
and with a small saw
laid our tree gently down,
stepped aside for my kids
to count its rings.
This time on the way home,
tree secure, I noticed
more trash than before,
a church I didn’t recall at all.

December 30, 2010

2 Responses to This Time

  1. Ellen says:

    Devon, I enjoyed your poems, especially the faded church with members congregated in the graveyard (was that word intentional over cemetery?) and the vacant stone house that watched after you. I think we have done this very thing, found a Christmas tree farm that wasn’t much, but instead of finding the right tree we ended up at the panicked festive hustle of commercial lot. And the other poem, just really gets me. Your mother almost perks up at being amongster her old friends. I really don’t think I can even comment, pure identification with an aging parent. Hard to read. It made me cry. (Which I hope you take as a compliment!)

  2. devonmarsh says:

    Ellen, thanks so much for the kind comments. I do take it as a compliment that “Tree in the Cemetery” made you cry. Tears of recognition, rooted in experience.
    As for the word choice, I did mean to use ‘graveyard.’ I read a definition once that explained a cemetery is “a graveyard not adjacent to a church.” This implied that a graveyard IS adjacent to a church. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, but I liked the distinction.
    As always, thanks for reading my work.

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