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 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.