Written for: Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads – “Tree Mythology” (posted by Kim)
“Based on myths and legends, stories in which people change into trees, such as Daphne, who becomes a bay laurel before Apollo can catch her; the Maenads who murdered Orpheus and have to watch their own toes turn into roots and their legs into trunks; Cyparissus, transformed into a cypress tree by Apollo; Myrrha, who is changed into a myrtle after creeping into her father’s bed; and Baucis and Philemon who spend centuries together as oak and linden as a reward for taking in strangers who are actually gods. There are too many tree myths and legends to list them all here.”
“The challenge is to pick a tree story, from the list above or any other you know and love, and write a poem about it. You can write it in the classical way as a ballad or narrative poem, or you can update it, riff with it or play around with the idea in any form of your choice. You can even make up your own story about a human who is changed into a tree.”
She is the Queen of the Cherry Trees
at entrance to Arbor Palace,
blossom puffs of pink like cotton candy–
hundreds of years old, never challenged.
People loved the Cherry Tree’s shape
except one grumpy girl, quite jealous.
One morning, from under her cape
she drew a sword, hacked a branch, quite vicious.
Instantly, the tree cried out, I’m bleeding!
Grumpy girl froze; she was terrified.
All over town, tree’s cry was heeded.
Tree surgeon reattached limb and cauterized
spot so tree could heal. Girl tried to run
but found herself rooted in place,
sword still in hand, under a hot sun.
Rusted solid, sword tree grew with gnarled face.