I skipped up to the tree –
He smiled down at me.
I asked, “Why let your gold leaves fall?”
“There’s nothing, dear, to it at all –
It’s in the act of letting go,
Like how the clouds release the snow.”
“But how?” I asked. “Whatever for?!”
The old sap laughed until he roared.
“It’s just the way the Earth made me –
or else my leaves get too heavy.”
I searched myself inside,
And then released my pride.
“I think I need to leave my past –
The reason why I really asked.
But I’m afraid to feel the pain –
Is there all that much to gain?”
The tree shook more leaves to the dirt –
“You can’t be free without the hurt.”
I bolstered up with all my might –
Conjuring up the will to fight.
I tried and tried and tried again;
surrender too hard to attain.
The tree leaned down to give me air
And doing so, answered a prayer.
I breathed in once and then exhaled,
A whole new soul I then unveiled.
The freedom at last to weep and cry
The sadness comes with each goodbye.
But then came relief and then delight –
How great it feels to see the light!
Reflection on the writing process:
Getting each word to rhyme and playing with the iambic quadrameter and rhythm proved to be quite a challenge. I spent a lot of time reworking the lines, growing closer to the meaning I was trying to portray. I knew I wanted to write a poem with the theme of letting my past go in order to move on to a brighter future, and I love trees so much that it seemed natural to talk about trees releasing their leaves through personification.
My struggle to liberate myself from memories of toxic and harmful relationships has been causing me a great deal of anxiety recently. I feel the weight on my shoulders as I attempt to let go of the guilt I felt from romantic relationships, specifically. The part where I write, “I tried and tried and tried again” shows my tendency to think I can do it by myself. But ultimately, I have needed help from so many others to learn how to breathe again – my counselor, my family, my friends, and the new person I am seeing. I’m more thankful because of it, though, from realizing I am nothing without others. I am simply the culmination of my community and the people I let into my life, who stick with me through the pain until I feel joy again.
Prompt from my American literary traditions class: Distill the essence of some powerful internal experience in four or five compressed, concentrated expressions, modeled after the concentrated poems of Emily Dickinson.