The Giving Stump

Posted by Jon Madian on Mar 23, 2018
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While The Giving Tree always seemed a strange children's book, ironically as my 77th b'day approaches, I'm finding it is a classic for articulating themes about growing old.

A recent poetic reflection on 'The Giving Tree'...
THE GIVING STUMP (Sequel to The Giving Tree)

At the end of the day
the giving tree had given
her last leaf to a girl
who wanted to decorate
her hair
And her last branch
to a boy who wanted
to make marks on the earth
and bang rocks and tree trunks

The boy walked with an old man
who looked at the stick's
lovely curves, knots,
curls, and gnarls, and said,
that stick will be good for me
to lean on;

some day I'll carve a lovely handle
to celebrate this fine walking stick
so the mountains will remember
how grateful I was
when I walked here
The sound of the boy and the old man
grew softer.
The tree, that now was a tree only
in memory, was alone;
and the tree felt that she was just a stump

She felt that the breeze,
playing through the trees all around her
didn't dance in her branches anymore

She was alone seeing everything
she once had been, and never again would be.
Pink blossoms that were her spring crown
would never decorate her branches

Alone, a stump, her roots cried
for the sugar-sap her green leaves spun,
by turning sunlight into liquid amber
that smelled sweet as a bees honey hive.

Up the tree from her deep in the rich earth
went the water and minerals
up through the moist heartwood
down came the sap in fine
steady trickles and smoother
more steady streams

But now she felt her roots aching
for the food that had grown them
the food they'd always known

in all her pain of loss
she longed for her limbs
and to be able to sooth
her hungry roots

pain contracted her into a shell
of sorrow as hard as a rock
until at last she saw the evening
turn a darkening azure blue
the air grew cold and so clear
so as the stars came out
silently, one by one, each
a perfect diamond
each polished to a diamond shape
by the wind that set the leaves to whispers
the night sky and the soft wind
were her lullaby and she relaxed

At first her sleep
set by the mood of the evening
was almost peaceful

But then she dreamed of
leaves leaving her branches,
then of branches being cut,
falling and being carried away

In her dream she saw
she was giving every bit of herself away
bit by bit, piece by piece

to busy, anxious, people
who saw only what
they could take and not
what she was giving

now,
there was
nothing left

She also discovered that wasn't entirely true
a stump was left
for anxious, tired people to sit on
and being sat on was most welcome
but what followed might or might not be pleasant.

Some people sat and complained,
others sat and cried
and only some looked and listened
seeing the wonders of the forest and the sky

Such people would sigh,
sometimes stretch and take deep breathes,
some would sing and some would
write notes, or poems, or even draw or paint

and these welcome guests might say,

Isn't it a most stunningly beautiful day.
and the stump was always sorry when those
people went away

she'd listen to the
footsteps fading into silence
or fading into River's water song…

Then one day, when other trees were
blooming into glory
unfolding the most delicate flowers
that had been cradled all winter long,
fragile blossoms pink and white
and fragrant as oranges.

It was when inhaling this joy
that a thousand bees arrived.
The queen landed alone,
while the other bees buzzed above.

She walked straight in as if she
knew this stump was a perfect home,
a place where she could safely
raise her very large family.

After the Queen entered,
the other bees followed.
Thousands of tiny, delicate taps
marching with the perfect rhythm
that comes with confidence

Their hair thin feet marched
to the music of thousands of humming wings
Their buzzing song rising and falling
like the organ in a great cathedral

How alive the stump was.
She imagined the sun kissed breeze
in the tops of her
once upon a time spring green limbs

It was delicious to be so still
so small and broken and yet
in the depth of her being
to be so spacious….

the tree understood
that she was blessed
by the gifts that giving had given her….

-Jon Madian

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Comments (2)

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    So sweet, thanks for sharing :)

  • Vinya Sankaran Vasu wrote ...

    So beautiful :)