A Tree Came Down
Poem for My Father

On Saturday, May 9,
the morning after my father passed,
a giant pine tree that had stood behind
my house the entire time we lived there came down.
It towered over the neighborhood,
giving shade and shelter to birds,
a powerful presence known by all the neighbors.
Most people never thought about this tree aside from the fact that one day it could
fall down and smash our houses.
Piece by piece it was dissembled, the branches cut off, and the top to the bottom
cut down. Our hearts were breaking at the same time.

Like that tree, my father was solid, unwavering. He provided shelter
and strength.
He would do anything for his family.
He always found a way to help, even people he didn’t know.
He wasn’t a firefighter,
but he was the firefighter type. Two different times I saw him
jump into water to save people from drowning.
Once it was my cousin Tom
in the Cold River at the Mohawk Trail when Tom was stuck
because the river was being flooded.
That’s the kind of person my father was.

At the same time, he was many-sided.
He didn’t mind listening to me talk about the books I read,
especially if they were about history or other cultures.
He liked classical music, and liked to read about science.
And he was funny. And he never held a grudge.
He thought life is too short to be angry with people.

My family is spiritual,
and we believe in Nature,
we believe in the Right Path
and the Right Way.
My father embodied the goodness of life.

Like the tree that came down the day after he left us,
my father stood as tall as a giant,
genuine and true.
There is a hole as big as all the oceans
in the world now,
but we are much better off for having had him with us.


Photograpphy © Shannon O'Connor

Photograpphy © Shannon O’Connor


Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA from Bennington College in Fiction. She has been previously published in ODDBALL MAGAZINE, as well as The Wilderness House Literary Review, Meeting House Magazine, Wordgathering and others. She lives in the Boston area.