Last year, a day care center opened next door to me. One day, I overheard one or two children admiring, from afar, the tree house in my back yard. The following poem was inspired by one of those “what if” moments I get as a writer.
What if one of those kids sneaked into my yard, climbed my tree, then fell? What if I wasn’t home, and the child lay injured on the ground for hours before help arrived? What if his parents sued me? The tree house has since been taken down due to concerns about the tree’s stability.
This poem was published in Mingled Voices 2, an anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. You can click the link below to hear me read it.
STAY AWAY FROM My TREE HOUSE
Little one, it looks inviting, doesn’t it,
a house nestled in an old oak tree?
It’s far from homey.
It came with this house I bought ten years ago.
I don’t know how long it’s been there,
wooden ladder rickety, perhaps unstable.
If you manage to get to the top,
who knows if the structure would bear weight?
Like the cradled baby in the treetop,
you and the house could tumble down, down, down,
land on the ground all broken.
The ambulance would take you away.
Wearing a body cast from head to toe,
you’d spend weeks, months in the hospital.
Unable to do anything
but lie there and watch television,
you’d long to be outside with your friends.
Dora the Explorer would get old after a while.
Your parents would sue me.
I’d have to sell my house
in order to pay your hospital bill,
move to a senior apartment complex,
where I could no longer enjoy my own back yard,
so you’d better not climb into my tree house
if you know what’s good for both of us.
Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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