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The Furnace, The Willow, And Me

Willow tree, like a mother,
Skirts of leaves umbrella down
Where I, a toddler, clinched a fistful
Grasped the hem
Of her protective robe.

This silent sentry presided stately
Over the flagstone patio behind our home
My tricycle shuddered over roughened surface
That brought staccato to motor sounds,
I roared with forced anger
At the top of my four-year-old voice.

I wheeled away from the guardian willow
Through French doors, into the basement den.
My course prescribed by the furniture’s placement
A corduroy divan, a blonde wood table,
Grandpa’s Victrola, knobs high out of reach.
Down the dank hallway, danger rising as sunlight faded
The deepest recess, twisted pipes and dreaded furnace
Hulking silent, waiting… waiting
For a three-wheeled voyager to near its grasp
Erupting to life, a mindless Pele
Sending me out in witless hurry
Its shadow heavy on my neck
Its threat nipping at my heals.

The hope of sunlight hit my face,
French doors rattled off their hinges
Flagstones jolted in high vibration
I sought her skirts and entered within
Slamming the boughs closed behind me
A relieved and safe survivor
Who teased the face of danger then came home.
Beginning a lifetime of probing and retreating
Daring and escaping.
A world foretold
By a furnace, a willow, and me.

Picture of Wes Stephenson

Wes Stephenson

Author, motorcyclist, poet, and adventurer. Let's journey together.



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