A Poem by Howard

The Spirits of the Trees

By Howard Hornstein    –   24 Dec. 1996

Typed on his computer while dealing with his ALS.


I realize now how much I miss these borrowed hours,
Crossing old familiar fields,
Taking time at last to climb
And reminisce among the flowers
Growing on the ridge.

Little friends, climbing fences, smiling faces
Barely stopping for a second
At the top of wooden gates,
Chatting in our hiding places,
And the trees would listen.

Barefoot boys down at the brook, chasing after
Little frogs and baby trout,
Shouting as they dashed about
In terror and our peals of laughter
Echoed in the trees.

And certain trees were always begging us to climb,
Daring us to swing from vines,
Giving us the sweetest berries;
We would hardly give them time
To ripen in the sun.

The first time on this ridge we sat for half the day,
Startled by the splendor of
The woods and meadows far below,
Hearing gentle voices say,
“You found our secret place.”

By three majestic oaks we built a fire ring,
Summer nights we shared our secrets,
Talked of girls and dreams we had,
Wondered what our lives would bring,
And the trees would listen.

I return here often though the years go by,
Summoned by some hidden power,
Many times I wonder why,
And once again the voices sigh,
“It’s because we love you.”

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