Guest Poet Richard D. Scarberry

The Mighty Oak

In the forest, once, a mighty oak
Stood tall among the trees
His branches reached out for the sun
His roots sank deep beneath

One day, as he looked down below
Upon the forest floor
He saw a creature there that he
Had never seen before

The creature seemed to care for him
And so he let it near
He gave it shelter from the rain
And learned to hold it dear

But then one day, to his surprise
The creature struck a blow
The mighty oak could feel the pain
And a shudder far below

The dew that gathered on his leaves
Like teardrops touched the ground
As, shaken by the creature’s blows
They started raining down

The creature finally left. The great oak’s trunk
Had been to strong
And though a piece had been cut out
He found that he could still go on

But he knew that he could not withstand
Another such attack
So he raised a thorny fence around
To keep the creature back

As time passed on, his strength returned
Though a part of him was lost
And he raised his eyes beyond the fence
Never guessing at the cost

For just outside, a princess stood
So tired and lost. Afraid
I beg you mighty oak, she said
Let me rest there in your shade

The fence that he had built just seemed
To quiver at her voice
And as it fell, he thought
Perhaps, at last, I might rejoice

He never even noticed that
There, gleaming in her hand
Was the sharpest ax the world has known
‘Til he felt the first blow land

Now the wound had been reopened
And the pain went twice as deep
And the mighty oak felt anger at
The betrayal, there beneath

So he swung a hardened bough
And swept the princess from his side
And he built a towering wall of stone
Where a mighty oak could hide

And he vowed to never let another
Creature come inside
And he lived there with his pain
Inside that wall
Until he died

August, 1998

Richard D. Scarberry's Questions:

I was devestated at a young age by a divorce I did not want. But I managed to get custody of my baby daughter. When she was fourteen, she chose to go and live with her mother. Thus the double blows to the mighty oak. My questions are:
1. Did the meaning come through clearly?

2. How could I have, or even, should I have, made the specific application  more apparent?

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The Albany Poetry Workshop