The Lie I Tell My Granddaughter

“Why do you care about nature so much?”

she asks as we walk through a dry stream bed.

The sycamores have surrendered their leaves

and I tell her they’re deep into winter sleep,

though inside I worry for these naked trees—

these sentinels of a time that has passed.

 

With careful footing around stream boulders

I manage to sidestep complete honesty

and try to protect this five-year-old child.

How can I tell her that care is urgent

now that nature is threatened with death—

that the passion I feel is more intense

when it’s too late, when loss becomes real?

 

Just as she clings to her failing dog

even more firmly as he shrinks to

a skeletal memory of himself.

 

Soon enough she may live in an age when

little is left of these trees except ash,

the Southwestern sky is often smoke grey

and life is a dry stream of regret.

 

So I project a lie for her now and

cling to it like fungus clings to a tree.

I pretend for us both I’ve borrowed her world

to be returned in good enough shape.

 

But I bury the lie when I need to go deep.

It’s hard enough now just to live with my grief.

 

 

 

 

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