I left the cemetery that April day
And drove to the old farmhouse
Where I’d grown up.
Dead leaves shattered
As I walked around the house
I hadn’t seen in twenty years
The tree branch that had held the rope swing,
The grassy space by the woods where I’d played…
The trees, just beginning to show new leaves
Let more light reach the ground than under summer’s
Dense canopy of green
Broken beer bottles, left by hunters, I guessed, lent sparks of light
To the dried leaves that had piled up for years
Shards of broken glass hung from the frame
Of my old bedroom window
Paint had worn off the house, leaving gray weatherboard
Speckled with holes from buckshot
From deer hunters no longer worried about anyone living there
The house sagged where rain had blown in for years.
And I knew the house would never be rebuilt.
I turned to go back to the car.
And that’s when I saw it.
When we’d moved to the farm and cleared the yard
I came across the trunk of a small tree, about two-feet tall
Near the edge of the woods
Thin bare branches arched up and then curved downward.
A Wisteria, my mother had said
An old one cut off and shaped into a small tree.
It bloomed later that spring, and every year after
Pendulous clusters of lilac-colored flowers on still bare branches;
A fountain of color before its leaves even grew.
But the year we moved away,
My uncle helped clear brush along the edge of the yard
And cut down the dormant Wisteria
Mom had cried when dad told her what had happened.
But that Wisteria, a vine by nature
Had sent out runners in every direction
That climbed high into the oaks
Pines and other trees behind the house
Reaching towards the sun
Pendulous flower clusters
On bare arching branches
More beautiful than it had ever been
When pruned into a tree
That Wisteria, though cut to the ground, hadn’t given up
It hadn’t died.
I walked to my car then
And drove back home
Feeling better, somehow.
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