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Young Writers Project: 'The Tree of Life'

Sylvan Williams poem, "The Tree of Life," was written in response to a prompt to tell a story that includes the line: "… because you’re the only one who will understand."";s:

This poem by Sylvan Williams, a seventh grade student at U-32 Middle School, was written in response to a prompt to tell a story that includes the line: “… because you’re the only one who will understand.”

The Tree of Life
By Sylvan Williams
Grade 7, U-32 Middle School

She turned to the girl sitting in the corner,
and spoke in a soft, gentle voice. 
“I need to tell you something,” she whispered. 
“Because you’re the only one who will understand.”
The girl shrunk back into the wall, 
cowering in the corner as if –
if she pressed hard enough –
it would envelop her into warm, loving arms. 
“There is a tree,” the woman continued. 
“Way at the edge of the city.
You must go to the tree
where the birds are singing sweetly,
and the wind plays in the thick branches. 
You must climb the tree every day, 
and whisper to it the stories of the sky. 
You've been there, I know. 
Only a child could see
the wonders of the clouds.”
The child looked at her with wide, knowing eyes, 
and whispered in a small, scared voice. 
“Okay,” she said, and the woman left. 
The child got up, 
her dirty legs shaking with anticipation, 
and she walked out the door to the bustling city. 
She walked for hours, 
until all she felt like doing
was curling up at the side of the street, 
and falling into a deep, dark sleep. 
But she continued on 
until she found a tree, 
exactly as the woman had said, 
and she climbed into the thick branches, 
where the birds were singing sweetly, 
and the wind played with her hair. 
And she told it the stories of the sky and the clouds, 
of way up high that only a child can reach. 
She climbed back down and slept at its roots,
and the next day, she told it a story, and left. 
She went back to the city, 
where no birds were found, 
and the breeze stank of stale garbage, 
wafting out of the alleys. 
But she returned every day, 
back to the tree, 
walking for hours to tell it the secrets, 
and she was happy. 
For every day for the rest of her life, 
she went to the tree and whispered to it
the stories of the sky. 
One day, she came to the tree, 
an old woman, 
strong from her many walks to the tree, 
yet tired from the stress that the world
had lain on her shoulders. 
She sat at the tree, 
for she could no longer climb it, 
and told it her final tale. 
“Goodbye,” she whispered with a single tear, 
and she laid back, her life complete. 
And as she took her final breath, 
and wrapped her arms around the tree, 
she grew into it, 
a branch of the ever growing tree of life, 
and looked down, 
as a young boy came slinking down the road, 
and listened to his first story. 
She welcomed each human that came to die at the tree, 
and accepted them into the tree of life. 
Years passed, and many men came to chop down the tree 
for wood to burn in their homes, 
but the tree stood tall – 
and not a dent was made 
in the beautiful tree of life. 

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