Linden, Sycamore, Mulberry, Catalpa

I came from the house dwarfed
by the linden tree in the yard
on a street of shotgun houses
and abundant trees, where
leaf-shaped shadows danced
on the living room walls,
where I chased maple seed pods
as they helicoptered to the ground,
walked to school for the first time
under oak trees, listening
to the crunch of acorns.

Then a mother playing peek-a-boo
with my babies around the sycamores
in the park. When we bought
our first house, my husband planted
a mulberry tree that grew even faster
than our sons. It was ready for them
when they learned to climb, fed generations
of silkworms, bore piñatas in its branches
for a decade of birthdays.

The children were already grown
when we came to the house with
the catalpa tree. My husband hung
a swing just for the two of us.
A huge tree, rough bark layered on
by the years. We drank iced tea
and played Liar’s Dice
at a little table in its shade.

I sat there the morning he died
while first the paramedics, then the
pair from the mortuary went through
their routines. My sons joined me,
then other family members, friends, neighbors
under the sheltering tree.

Ellen Romano is a graduate of San Jose State University and former elementary school teacher. Her work has appeared in december and is forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal.

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