You waited for me under the willow tree
but selfishness kept me away.
Then sorrow, then fear, as everything dear
ushered me slowly, slowly, to today:
I parted the leaves, stepped into the shade
with no hope- I was there to get closure.
In the name of Freedom I’d walked my path
and it had wrecked me over and over.
I look into green flowing knots above,
strange to see from the angle of my love-
my daughter, who, happy and dry and fed,
used warm hands to draw my face to her head.
My hair fell around us, as nose touched nose,
wild spirals that, like a curtain, closed
us in together- all sound was made dim
as I kissed her features: cheek, nose, and chin.
In each other’s eyes we smiled, we dined
And the seconds, generous, took their time
to let us sing in this glad warm chorus.
Now I see- you’re here! I survey your face,
drink the green sunlight as fear is erased.
“How long” I ask, “have you waited for me?”
“You know. You see. I never left this tree.”
Both with nothing and everything to say
we remember back to the very day
twenty years ago when you made a vow
which you have kept from that day until now.
My wandering heart cannot bear the shame
of leaving you here, not taking your name.
And the wind shakes the leaves to weep with me.
“Can you take me now or has love gone cold?”
“For joy you are mine! I never lose hold-
forever I will burn white hot for you!
I am unchanging and I make it true.”
I inched in, a caterpillar, a worm
to cocoon with you in the tree, and turned
into a butterfly, a creature new-
transformed as one: you in me, I in you.
Consummated then as husband and wife,
giving your faithful, long-suffering life,
and we danced to the song of the redeemed.
Think back to it now, fifty years more gone-
lifted from my midnight into your dawn.
Love, my sunrise! Fill my life with your light!
Lead me into ever increasing height!
You, always you! You’re the head of this heart,
so we were, are, will be, never to part.
Bow my head low, let the canopy fall.
My hair forms the branches closing out all
but you- my husband- my life in that tree.
With you I am truly, endlessly, free!
4 thoughts on “Under the Willow Tree”
This is beautiful, Kate.
A wonderful piece of poetry!
Thank you very much! Without sounding strange, it will always be one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.
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