White Oak Tree

In my back yard there is a white oak tree

With a straight trunk perhaps twenty inches

In diameter and twenty feet tall before

Its branches multiply to the sky.


We talk many a summer afternoon.

We are perhaps about the same age,

Sixty going on seventy.


There is little doubt You

Will outlive me and enjoy

Many more seasons and summer afternoons.


No one who will own this land

Will be fool enough

To cut you down.


I can see your beautiful lumber

And the hundred and fifty clear board feet,

But I would sooner cut my throat

As cut you down.


And I know about cutting trees

Having once earned my livelihood

As a cabinetmaker.

We talk of sun, leaves and stretching

To the sun and sky.


Life is good when given half a chance.

I think of disease, famine and death,

And thank God that I have the chance to watch

The tall, straight oak perhaps grow another

Fifteen or so years.


I am happy to think You

Might live a couple of hundred more years,

At least that is my sincere wish.


Remember me when I have become soil

Beneath your roots and You

Have tripled in girth as

You reach the sky.


-Thomas Deeds


Thomas Deeds is a craftsman, poet, teacher, husband, and father to two children. He has taught in a university, a community college, three girls’ college preparatory schools and one public high school. Some of the many classes he has taught include: Creative Writing, American Literature, Native American Literature, Prairie Literature, World Religions, Dystopian Literature, Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Education and Revolutionary Women.