Poems & Essays

20 Jul

A Tree for His Father

General/Column 5 Responses

I spot him pulling a Christmas tree
from a dumpster in the parking lot.
My stomach knots when I realize
his father, the one he feels
he should live with for now, has not
cared enough to buy one for him.

As I near, he smiles, the light
in his eyes pulling at my heart.
“Hi, Mom. Someone threw out
this perfectly good tree.
I’m gonna surprise my dad!”

He searches my face for the approval
he needs. I concentrate on his eyes.
“You’re so good at finding surprises.”
I remember a red stamp holder,
shaped like a mailbox,
that he bought for me at a yard sale.

He is still, soaking in my praise,
the moment slowing to a stop,
when I cannot bear any pause
in this wait for him to understand
that he will never do enough to please
his father. I point to the tree.
“Would you like me to get my car
and drive you home?”

He scans the parking lot, nodding
toward a rusted pickup that is pulling
into the driveway. “That’s okay.
The janitor came by earlier and said
he’d take me.”

When they are ready to leave,
I pull him close, burying my face
in hair that has grown coarse
over the year, breathing in
as I remember my newborn boy,
his sweet baby smell, wispy hair
tickling my nose.


Sharyl Collin started writing poetry about four years ago. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Mason’s Road Literary Journal, Wild Goose Poetry Review, *82 Review, The Intentional and Lummox.

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  1. Leslie Kendall Dye

    July 20, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Oh my goodness that was so painful to read. It was absolutely wonderfully written and I will be thinking about it for weeks, whether I want to or not…

  2. Diana Decker

    July 22, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Oh my. Wonderful! Well done, Sharyl.

  3. Sharyl Collin

    July 22, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you, Leslie. In sharing this story, I wanted to offer understanding to other mothers who may have to go through the excruciating process of allowing their child to learn a difficult but necessary lesson, and then watching as it happens. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am most thankful to say it was many years ago, and that all is well.

  4. Jill Smith

    July 28, 2015 at 1:31 am

    My heart is breaking. So beautiful and sad.

  5. Sharyl Collin

    July 30, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Thank you, Diana and Jill.


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