Monday, November 06, 2006

The Endless River and the Timeless Tree

"As the summer sun grows cold and the leaves begin to drift," I offer "The Endless River and the Timeless Tree." It is my most requested poem, perhaps because many can relate to its universal theme of Lost Love, Despair and Redemption. Let me know if it touches you ...

I met her by the river
As I sat beneath the tree
She asked me if I lived here
As the tree seemed made for me

I could see that she was lonely
For I was lonely too
We were just two lonely drifters
With nothin' much to do

"If we could be lonely together
we could cut loneliness in half!"
She winked at my naive bravado
With her, loneliness was a laugh

We soon grew fond of each other
As the fronds grew on the tree
Its leaves would come and go
But she would not leave me

And as the spring became the summer
We came to spend much more time there
We spent it all with each other
We spent it all without care

We talked of life beneath the trees
And danced beneath the stars
And many a night we defied their light
For they too would soon by ours

And we held each other for many an hour
(Though when we let go it would seem like years)
But even when I held her close
She would not lose her fears

For when the summer sun grew cold
And the leaves began to drift
She said suddenly she must drift too -
I never knew the earth could shift

She told me she was much older
Much older than she seemed
She told me we could not love
No matter how much we dreamed

She had fallen in love once too often
To be fooled by love again
I can see how she believed such foolishness now
But I too grew to lose faith then

"You are young, and still have life's hope to greet
but I am too old to travel that road."
But Hope was the last thing I thought I would meet
After I heard all that she had told

"We were lonely when we met
and will be lonely when we part!"
But she could not heed my plea for help
For she could not hear my heart

We kissed, she turned, I waved good-bye
And our run of days in the sun were now done
And where one life had been shared by two
Now two deaths were willed by one

And it came to pass she went to town
And became a great success
But her life was no longer my business
And her business to me meant even less

But I still looked with care on my river
And was never alone with the bottle at my side
The bottle and me danced quite openly
For we had nothing left now to hide

I went through one glass lover after another
And I would quickly suck them all dry
But as hard as they all tried to give me a laugh
When they'd "break up," I'd still always cry

Til the one night I finally laid back and cried out
"I am as forsaken as this fool tree!
No one cares whether it lives or dies
and the same thing holds true for me!"

"I am alone," I wept aloud
"I am ALONE!" when suddenly
The Lord thundered back with His reply
As He shook first the tree and then me

The tree was struck by lightning
And I was struck by His Light
The tree was left still standing
But I was on my knees that night

The Lord showed me that He had been there
Long before there even was a tree
And so then to drone that you are alone
Is not what will set you free

"But Lord, I'm too old to change my ways!"
I pleaded as I prayed
So He gave me new Life right where I was
And beneath the tree I stayed

But He left me with a new-found Faith
So I could live below, but look above
I found in Him there was still Hope
And in Him I could still Love

And when I found Love at last it soon came to pass
That a new girl came to pass me by
A girl much younger than myself
A girl who too wondered why

And as she passed I saw a lonely look on her face
A look I too had once possessed
And as she walked away I asked if she (too)
had been left behind -
And surprised, she quickly confessed

But I also could tell by the tone of her voice
That there'd be little she would let me tell her
Fortunately for me, the subject I'd be sharing
Was not something I was supposed to sell her

Curiously she asked me my name
And I told her who I was
Curiously, she then asked if I lived here -
"No," I told her, "but I now know who does."

Tom O'Toole

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