My momma kept naming different kinds of trees. We were amazed. We didn’t know she knew the names of so many trees: “pine, cypress,
She named fruit trees: “lemon, apple, peach, plum…”
Finally, she said, “weeping willow.”
She clutched her heart as if she had a pain. She walked over to Poppa and collapsed in his
her funeral, Poppa was too sad to stay around
the area, so he took me and my seven brothers
and sisters up north to Tennessee.
We never forget Momma, but we eventually
forgot Old Willa. At least, we never talked about the tree.
Shade for all. “Baby
Dear,” said Momma, “I tell you that story now
because, when I saw you marching down the aisle
getting your diploma, you stood tall and proud
as a tree.
Then I saw an image of Old Willa running
through my mind.”
I grabbed Momma and hugged her tightly. I felt like I was hugging Old Willa. “I thank you dearly for telling me this story.
I promise you, Momma, that I will hug
and kiss as many trees as I can.”
For ten years now, since my college graduation, every
time I see Momma she tells me about Old Willa. She always has something new to say about the weeping willow.
I spend my days working in a gray color-coded
office suite in one of the busiest cities in
the world—they call it the Big Apple, but I
haven’t seen any apple trees. Every now and then I go over to Central Park.