Old Tree

“Old Tree” Artwork by Sara John

Old tree

Dark tree, sinister tree

I know ‘bout you

And them secrets you like to keep

Behind leaves so green

And flowers so fresh

But that ain’t nothing but lies and falsehoods

‘Cause when the spring goes by

And that winter come

I see you for what you are

For what you done


That’s right, Ol’ Tree

With your branches bare

With your trunk scarred

You can’t hide behind yo’ leaves

You can’t hide behind no spring renewal

‘Cause I know about you, Ol’ Tree

What you done

What you hung

From branches so strong

They held the weight of a man

An innocent man

A black man


Oh, yea, I remember,

Ol’ Tree

How you used to give us shade

Used to keep us from the sun

When we made love

And you pretended you was our friend,

Our tree

But you was his tree

That white man’s tree

And when that white man come

With that rope so thick

That rope so strong

You gave him a branch

You gave him an arm

And you let that white man steal a life,

Ol’ Tree

You let him take my love

Copyright 2012 © Elizabeth Michaud John.  All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “Old Tree

  1. Kelli, I have to tell you, this is one of my favorite poem that I’ve written, hands down. It’s hauntingly sad, full of betrayal. I think of how this woman was probably looking for a little comfort in a life that probably did not hold much, just a little time with her lover under “their tree” and some cruel man took her from him, but since she can’t rail against the assailant, she unleashes her anger out on this tree…

    You are right: There are forests of such trees and they diminish the nature of our country’s landscape…

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