The Passing of Grandfather Red Oak

You stood for three centuries,
giving shade and shelter
in the ancient forest,
where so many times
we walked in silence
on warm Sunday afternoons.

You graced us with your beauty,
and we marveled at your enduring strength,
helping us not be quite so afraid
of death’s inevitable knock,
and the chill that forever remains.

You fell with great thunder,
like that shaking the skies,
and left the deepest impressions
the earth below will always remember.

So much you’ve seen
throughout your life,
I cannot begin to imagine.
So many birds delighted
as you held them tight during storms
and in the darkness of the night.

Your leafy canopy gone,
but never forgotten.
Your rugged bark
so many woodpeckers once climbed.
And oh how we loved your rusted leaves
that fell in autumn
and brought back so many memories.

The hole you leave behind in the earth
and most of all in our hearts
can never be filled,
but rest now, sweet Grandfather Red Oak;
for your work is done.

A tribute to a magnificent red oak tree that
stood for over three hundred years in the
Holden Arboretum in the Cleveland area.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

10 thoughts on “The Passing of Grandfather Red Oak

  1. A great tribute to this Tree..how many of us walk by our trees and seem not to notice their existance…..

  2. I’m not a nature freak :), but I hate it when any tree goes down — especially an old one. Great poem!

  3. Thanks Polona, Pat, Aurora, and Floots. It is said to see old trees go. This was a magnificent tree. So stately and inspiring. I share your feelings about trees.

  4. a fitting tribute
    even though i spend half my life collecting logs for the winter fire i have an enormous affection for trees
    albeit much younger than your oak some beech trees which had dominated our devon skyline for years were felled and you have summed up many of my thoughts
    thank you

  5. Reminds me of the live oaks in South Georgia, some of them get to be 7 and 8 hundred years old. There has to be a hole left in the universe when they die. Well done!!

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