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[Poetry] Two Poems by CLS Sandoval

My Tree Trunk


When the boy sits on the tree’s stump at the end of the Giving Tree, I used to think it was sad because they had both lived their lives and been used up.  Then, I grew into a woman and became a mother.  I have despised my trunk, abused my trunk, expected it to stay 16 or 20.  But, just as the trunk of real trees grow stronger and more sturdy as they add rings, so I expanded with age, strength, and wisdom.  I have become a waif no more.  I am willing to give my daughter anything she needs; my apples, my leaves, my branches, even my trunk.  But now, as I read Shel Silverstein’s story to her, and watch the boy haul off what is left of the tree’s body, I pray my daughter would never demand that I be reduced to a stump, just so that she might sail away.


Under Our Roots


In some families the newer generation sprouts 

like saplings from the strong roots of the generations of trees before

oaks beget oak

pine beget pine

and no one questions their connection


Even when the generation before falls

or has its trunk severed

the saplings, now older, stronger trees 

are seen as the descendants 

of the roots of the generation before


The generations before me 

are more like clover

and me like nitrogen-fixing bacteria


We chose each other and provide for each other 

as symbiotically as the trees and roots of the same kind


As the clover of the generations before me pass

I find myself now nourishing the alfalfa that is my daughter


A person who doesn’t understand 

the relationship between bacteria and clover or alfalfa

won’t know why we are bonded

but the generations of mothers that came before me 

and the generation after are bonded through choice

the adoption of a different kind


that has become as cemented 

as saplings to the roots of their mothers



CLS Sandoval, PhD (she/her) is a pushcart nominated writer and communication professor with accolades in film, academia, and creative writing who speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches and rarely relaxes. She has presented over 50 times at communication conferences, published 15 academic articles, two academic books, three full-length literary collections: God Bless Paul, Soup Stories: A Reconstructed Memoir, and Writing Our Love Story, and three chapbooks: The Way We Were, Tumbleweed: Against All Odds, and The Villain Wore a Hero’s Face. She is raising her daughter, son, and dog with her husband in Walnut, CA.


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