The Sunday Poem: Julie Brokken . . . Old Walnut Tree

Old Walnut Tree

The old walnut tree still stands tall yet dying
down by the creek between the graveyard and my brother's house
still teaches lessons to its English Walnut children
the dead and anyone else patient enough to listen

A woodpecker tenders the gentle old soul
plays his drum
gleans plump fatty insects
while hammering his respects

A squirrel family caches memories and nuts
tells ghost stories in the nesting heart of the tree
their children leave to chase phantoms and dreams
round and round its hollowed old trunk

My father stood tall stoic sturdy like this tree
a farmer by birth a teacher and storyteller by nature
he tilled this rich Iowa soil sowed seed showed us the way
caching stories to pass round and round

He taught 'the boys' how to farm
taught everyone he could how to fish
as his father had taught him
bending over a river like an old tree

Never talked much about his childhood
or the schoolhouse he and his seven siblings went to
a short walk over cemetery hill and down to arrive at school
perhaps recess was chasing squirrels

He never told us that Grandma started this walnut grove
nor that she planted them from hard hulled seed
here beside the one room schoolhouse she taught in
bending over children's desks like an old tree

I can see the family plot up on the hillside
from this patch of green where the school used to be
where I played among its foundation stones
with my siblings running round and round

The young walnut trees still thrive beside old trees and dead
down from the cemetery hill where my father is buried
down here where perhaps his childhood thrived
where he buried it beneath this old tree

©2011 Julie SuZaNNe BröKKeN

See poetry, photographs and other things at Julie's blog  Her six-word memoire reads, "Farm girl sprouts artist-poeta wings!" Her poetry is published in Mo’ Joe: The Anthology, edited by John Roche (Beatlick Press) and in the Malpais Review, Mas Tequila Review, Adobe Walls & The Rag. Julie participated in "100 Thousand Poets for Change" and supports Librotraficante. See "Smuggle Compassion."

Send poems to The Sunday Poem  Many thanks to all who have participated! Larry Goodell

Views: 140

Comment by Dee Cohen on July 14, 2014 at 5:16am

Beautiful words and thoughts. Thank you

Comment by Izquierdo on July 14, 2014 at 7:21pm

Another great poem, Julie. I've loved them all, especially Hafez. I feared you had erred when you mentioned squirrels in trees, a rare sight in New Mexico, but you righted the ship with a reference to Iowa in short order. Thanks.

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on July 20, 2014 at 12:34am

quite lovely--such a rich soil look at life--great family history.  Nicely done.


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