The Singing Tree
A Sort of Villanelle
Underneath the Singing Tree on Weeping Willow Way
I thought about God floating up on a cloud
while Atticus sat in the grass to play.
“Give us today we ask and we pray,”
I mumbled aloud
beneath the Singing Tree on Weeping Willow Way
and asked my son: What does a cow say?
The cow says, “Moo!” then showed me how
while he sat in the grass to play.
So I thought about Christ hiding away
in a garden far from a crowd
beneath the Singing Tree’s weeping willow sway
When Atticus brought me his toy and he laid
his head in my lap while I marvled how
nicely he sat in the grass and played.
I remembered Jesus when he was betrayed,
poked the ground with a stick, and bowed
my head beneath the Singing Tree on Weeping Willow Way
while Atticus napped in the grass that day.
A villanelle is French form of poetry with a pretty tight form. Probably the most famous villanelle is Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night” (recently featured in Chris Nolan’s film, Interstellar). The form is as follows:
A1 b A2/ a b A1/ a b A2/ a b A1/ a b A2/ a b A1 A2
I had the opening tercet of “The Singing Tree” floating around in my head and then chose this form to finish the poem because it allowed for a slight sing-songy feel reminiscent of the picture books Atticus loves so much. Its sentimentality and loose adhearence to the form would keep me from shopping it around but for what it’s worth I think it’s a nice artifact that Atticus can always have.