Our teachers

sent us home

with tiny trees to plant—

before green was

en vogue.


The same temporary

dad who taught me

how to tell time, helped

his daughter and me

to plant our baby oaks,


side by side.

Days later, when ruffians

knocked mine down,

I wept as if my spindly

sapling possessed a soul—


as if the brokenness were

my own flesh.


Since my tears never ended

quickly, I am sure they watered

my tree the day I knelt opposite

Dad as he splinted and bound it

with popsicle sticks and string.


I returned often to examine

the wound, forgetting even

that it was mine by

midsummer when I moved

to the next foster home.


I was 19 when

Mr. White said, Look,

Evie. that’s your tree;

it’s the bigger of the two—

and stronger.


Some things I never really

forget but don’t realize

until tears tell me not

all that is wounded

and broken dies.

Last week I paid

earnest money for

a lot with two trees;

my home will be

built between them.

– Mary E. Kocher