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When a tree falls, by Britta Benson

Picture credit: Britta Benson

This poem was inspired by a prompt on ‘The Procrastinators’ blog (https://theprocrastinators58220236.wordpress.com/2022/05/01/sunday-writing-prompts-picture-prompts/), a Chinese proverb: ‘When a tree falls, the shadow flies’. Somehow this saying instantly resonated with me. Here’s my response.

When a tree falls

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
Shadows don’t like being disturbed.
Especially not like that.
All the noise, the kerfuffle, the chainsaws,
how rude!

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
That’s a problem.
Most of the good spots are already taken.
Think of musical chairs,
you don’t want to be the last one left standing.
Alone, singled out in plain view…
Not really your forte, if you’re a shadow.

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
Sometimes too far.
Shadows get homesick, too,
and in all the rush, the hurry,
they can become disoriented, panic,
simply run, run, run, and then? 

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
Can’t take anything with her.
All the memories rot at the stump.
If they’re quick, if they’re brave,
they’ll seep into the soil, hide and shelter,
until a seed comes along 
to grow their story once again.

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
Lonely business.
When your life’s companion dies,
nothing holds you, keeps you 
in your rightful place, nothing grounds you.
It’s an end and a beginning you didn’t want.

When a tree falls, the shadow flies.
What happens next? 
We’ll never know.
The shadow has no witness.
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