The Tree

Prompt: Favorite tree
It was a tree born from death, my daughter’s swinging tree. With thick curving branches that dip low to touch the grass and a trunk that requires three of us to link arms just to reach around.

From my spot on the porch I can see three of the eight simple crosses marking the passing of my family. Grandaddy and Grandma, bright under the summer sky. The corner of my own mother’s own freshly painted wood, almost invisible in the late afternoon shadow.

I’ll be buried under this tree some day.

The shriek of Rosemarie’s laugh and I lift my hand to see the silhouette of her frame as limbs fly through the air. The old plank and rope swing had it’s last ride five summers ago. Now rubber and chain propel her with a sure trajectory.

I can’t stop the small smile even as I wipe away the unexpected tear.

The tree is inescapable. Just as Rosemarie lands, she is running back too it. Using the makeshift ladder constructed by my own brother three decades ago. Rosemarie calls it her Stairway to Heaven. It goes higher than she would dare. She settles instead on a low branch where I know she’s hidden a handful of toys. It’s wide enough to sit comfortably, nestled within a canopy of leaves. I can hear her playing.

The clouds move and the sun floods through the branches. I can now see Auntie and my baby sister, both weathered by time. I wonder where my spot will be underneath the tree.

A foot emerges, Rosemarie’s sneakers, only the size of my palm. She’s walking down carefully with berries in her hand and pride on her face. She uses one to crush along the ladder, painting the wood piece a bright blue. She pops another in her mouth.

This tree born from death creates life, my daughter’s swinging tree.

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