Mother’s Great Maple Tree

Floating through Iowa morning sky,

I remember childhood of space travel,

Allen Shepard, John Glenn, they’d made it,

For me in Iowa, East Side, I dreamed

Up that old Great Maple, wings for seed,

In South Dakota could such as these exist?

Yet, trees unlike South Dakota, grew on 47th street,

Sixty-years, Maple out of our house window,

Window bright, mother, you gave Iowa

Up to cancer, my brother Doug said nothing,

Coco, all his money beautiful Shetland

Died, Doug was five- years-old,

I launched model rockets into air

Four-hundred feet, cardboard, balsa wood

Painted yellow Explosion of parachute

Into our backyard, where lost boys

Conducted experiments with chemistry set,

Constructed Erector Set towers ; I never learned

To spell, so read The Adventures

Of Huckleberry Finn, old Jim, Becky Thatcher,

Then To Kill A Mockingbird the torment of Negros,

Kerry first real friend in seventh grade,

Taught me more about rockets, day

After summer day, such as I was

Eleven-years-old, then to seventh grade

Doug and I baby sat each other, summer’s

Reading, moving next to old Walker’s

House, rockets again, another Shetland

Grew as Doug grew, now he was eleven,

Remembered his snake collection, I entered

Advanced track school, none foresaw

Grinnell College family someday picked me

Up by boot straps, gave me scholarships

Became my shoulders from boot-straps

After drinking my way across Europe,

Fine wine, cheap beer, anything even green

Smoke, followed me, another day, English

Literature into great upheaval in each sum

I wanted to write poetry, never math even though

Mrs Christian gave me my only “F,”

That stuck, so I began to read so much Miss Emily.

Modern Poetry, in reverence , Science Fiction,

In Open class, girls thought Kerry,

Friend was odd, so I was odd and lonely, all but one

I was oh so smart we checked each other’s dreams

I found TS Eliot’s Ash Wednesday

I never knew how Kerry began to love

Me me as brother he never had, through High School

On to College, farther afterwards he picked me up,

As the friend he never found.

Finding dad, I had known dad longest,

My father was in college, I reported him to Social Workers,

He was hauled into court in California, blamed for every

Dollar he never paid for my pairs

Of shoes, so I took on paper-routes,

Earned every frozen cent, Doug took his

Paper money, spent it all on pop, on gum

Candy, fruit rings, toys, on a Roger’s Drum Kit envious

I went to meet dad first , and step-mom, wished

My visits with our dad would end until old age.

I  ended knowing how dad treated her,

Our mother wept for her boys because of his cruelty,

Turned to acceptance, cancer grew in her, I took on burdens

I wept, my wife consoled me, my brother Doug never

Understood me, but she understood my marriage came first,

While I lit the last candle of her death

Loved her to end of radiation, chemo, calling everyday, everyday,

From South Dakota, my students found out, understood

My stricken moods; as student myself, my lessons

Softened–child-man, these were my lessons

Why I’d  moved to California at age eighteen

In my dreams, found her when

I was sixty-two-years-old, or sixty-seven.

Our town of Hartford became

My resting place with my wife

My Marjorie, my pearl, my confidant

I wept for hours, for the lost boys

After days in ICU myself, came to know a Higher Power

Know why Kerry flew to Hawaiian Island,

Most of all my Marjorie, married longest after mother’s death

Dorothy, our mother, My Gift of God.

She never truly celebrated our 30th, dad’s long

Marriage, but our anniversaries began

With her Donald when she died, her death

Anniversary forgotten for her lost boys,

Her sons returned. Without her death nothing would have

Come together, many miles gone that old Maple,

Still growing in a new front yard; I Consoled dad

As he finely reasoned our love

Why I did what I had done, why I called attorneys

Abandoned him to jail when

I was just eleven, fear in my heart

Because he’d never sent child-support

Again lost boys, another parent

Thought we were gone; it was our mother

I Confessed my sin as he became his need at eighty-eight

I Always knew my own treason to him,

He bound me to truth, to never speak of this.

At 67, again I assumed his needs–every year

Like mother at 68 when she died, we brought him

To South Dakota in frozen January

To see our daughter; he was finally disabled

This mountain man, so  unlike his sons,

Visited with Doug in California, tried to loved us both,

Doug never understanding his ending

Another loss for my mother’s beaten life,

Marilyn his second wife in death–

Lost his best friend, as Doug never

Understood our mother’s childhood

Beaten by foster parents; because dad’s wife

Rested in Sierra Nevada grave in meadow grass

Away  from his dishevel home he’d never leave

Leave it just the way it was that day of her death.

He finally laid to rest his wife

While our mother laid by her her husband

Deep in her grave no one could ever leave her,

His youngest son filled with hate at divorce

Abandonment with education long out of reach

With release from mother’s death again

By cancer, I told father it was not his

Redemption from her beauty in her death,

But his sons who finally understood.


Published by elgwynone

I was a University and community college instructor before retiring. I also worked in fast food restaurants, and retail stores. I am an ordinary man writing for because I want to write and because my education prepared me to write; BA English lit, MA English, EdS higher education, and MFA creative writing, free verse poetry and essays. Blogs are an answer to high-priced self-publishing. Walt Whitman had to self-publish his first 1000 copies of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass because in 1855 poetry did not sell. Most poets make a living in other ways than writing. Wallace Stevens was an insurance executive, and TS Eliot was a banker. Many writers teach, and always there have been writers who have written because they needed to express their thoughts and feelings. They wrote not necessarily to make money but to express "the old universal truths of the human heart" according to Faulkner. Here I reach a wider audience I missed than by self-publishing, and I stand a better chance to reach a wider audience for less expense than self-publishing. I self-published my first books, Winter from Spring, and Meditations on Gratitude; poetry and photo books which were easier to self-publish than to seek a not to seek a publisher company. This blog allows me to write for an interested audience because I write poetry and personal essays. I write for a friendly audience and present to you a slice of my writing. Perhaps you will enjoy what you read.

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