Kindness Unravelled or the Art of Being Better When the Oak Tree Dies

It used to be that I would walk the halls

and think about the great work done

here among and on behalf of the next generation.

Today, however, the small oak tree outside

my office window came down. It had died,

probably a slow, painful death, strangled

from water, leaves curling, turning brown

until she had to be cut down to preclude falling,

knocking out some unsuspecting teenager.

Would that be so bad? Could I choose the teenager

who might be sitting beneath that beloved tree

as it careened to the asphalt in the center of the quad

in the center of the school that is the center of the community

that is just off-center from the land of silicon?

I could name one or two whose head, swollen

with self-importance, would survive the blow

but maybe be knocked sensible in the process.

That, of course, would not be becoming

of me, a person in my position, to wish for–

a lover of children and especially teenagers

even when they say hurtful things, disrespect

their parents, crash their car in a mad dash

for the sandwich shop at noon. No, I dare not

wish the child to be near that oak, that once

beautiful tree, when it dips its last time in the wind.

There is something quite sad about the loss of a tree,

or a dog, or a friend, or even the thought of one.

It makes me want to be kind to the trees,

but not necessarily you.


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