That tree

Older, barer, thick and still strong
is that tree which shaded my youth.
Prickly and knotted with a rough,
gnarly bark, it was always there,
rooted in prayer and gifted with the fruit
of its many silent blessings.
It is I who have grown,
and grown to miss it,
although I know it stands there still—
all hard and solid, its crown assured,
the weight of its many years bowing it
to the ground, as it awaits the wood cutter’s ax.

But in the winds that blow and swirl
and curl down through the years,
that tree will live on
as long as there is me or mine
to remember it. My father.


With great love and thanks to the family’s wonderful, loving, strong-as-a-tree father, Jack Etheridge!

Thank you for reading That tree. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


Filed under Poetry

13 responses to “That tree

  1. what a fine father’s gift

  2. This is really beautiful! I especially like lines 5 and 6. 🙂

    • Victor, thank you much. The line I very much love is ‘The weight of its many years bowing it to the ground.’ This is an old Persian saying about humility and my father so epitomizes the idea that I was grateful I could work it in.

  3. This is good … I like this … Tribute to a Father- …

    • Dan, sorry that it took so long to respond to this comment. Somehow it ended up in my spam queue. Thank you for the compliment…he is a fantastic man and I love him dearly.

  4. Once again a gorgeous piece John.

    • Simon, thank you ever so much! You know, my dad is such an interesting character…a wonderful person, deep and inspiring. I wish I could write more poems for him but I can’t, not yet…he is still so close to me that I choke up easily when thinking about him.

      • That’s so beautiful. I lost my dad in 2010, and I miss him terribly. But I am filled with special memories of him 🙂

  5. Good poem … the tree, a powerful metaphor for good fathers.
    Have a good weekend and a good week.

    • It is a good metaphor isn’t it? As a result, this poem was a rarity for me, one which wrote itself very, very quickly.

  6. Lovely, John. Did you read it to your dad?

    • The version I posted was actually a slight re-write of a poem that I had written and given to dad several years before…which is now framed and on his wall. Curiously enough, for all that I have done in my life and as much as some of my choices may have surprised him, my being a poet is probably the thing that surprises him the most. Plus, I am pretty sure that he thinks that his quoting the one poem he was forced to learn as a child…the most salient bits of Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ (into the valley of death rode the seven hundred…that one) to me when he I was a child, had a big influence on me. He just may be right.