The Perfect Tree
I follow my dad’s trek through the woods,
his black work boots trampling
fallen leaves and snapping twigs
on our mission to find the perfect tree.
His hand-saw, with the orange handle,
rests on his shoulder and I look around
to see the birds and squirrels scatter
in his wake, chattering in annoyance
over the removal of yet another dwelling
in their paradise we call the acreage by the creek.
The selected tree seems small standing alone
and I peer between its branches
checking for nests and worm holes
and other signs of life.
my dad kindly reminds me
that it is the wrong time of year for
building nests and raising young;
the birds have gone elsewhere for the winter.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder about their
return home in the spring only to find
a stump where once stood their perfect tree.
But Christmas traditions hold strong and
aluminum trees are something for city folks.
We have our acreage by the creek and like my
grandparents who brought the land,
we keep the tradition steadfast and certain.
Now I live in the city and have a small pine tree
in a pot of soil that came from the grocery store.
My dad is gone, his boots resting in his workshop.
But I still make the annual hike to the family farm,
carrying with me an object much smaller than a saw
And when I find the tree, I hang on its branch,
a tiny red ball with a bird painted on the side,
a welcome home gift for the field sparrows
when they return in the spring.