In a park in Missouri,
amid the high green grasses and
rusted wooden benches painted white,
there stood a gnarled gray tree –
It was a tree that could tell stories, if only trees could talk.
It’s spindly fingers now held nothing
but a tired tire swing that seldom got visitors.
Everything about it was barren, but
the acute observer may notice the abnormal scrawlings
of a devastated heart that labeled it so long ago.
Back during a time
when love was political,
a man and woman of one soul and mind
wanted to tie themselves together
with steel rings he’d forged.
She was the picture of porcelain wealth;
her father owned the town and he owned nothing.
With pockets full of poverty, the only worthwhile thing
he would ever possess
was the vow she wanted to give him.
The night before their secret betrothal was black and conniving –
no stars shed light on the insidious plan her father had hatched.
Quietly the suitor she didn’t want
stalked him to that tree where they were to meet,
and she arrived later only to find
a noose had beaten her in the race to throw itself tenderly
around his neck.
She later marked the tree as her own,
inscribing their names into its chipped bark
before she too
was lost among its leaves.