The torn branches of elder trees
reveal scars as they slouch in old age.
The same branches, which shade river travelers
and house singing birds,
struggle to stand against
the river’s raging rapids.
Rooted helplessly to the ground,
and secure to their place,
still couldn’t save a young boy’s life.

I wonder what they said as they
watched him walk to the river;
unsupervised, unknowing
the trouble that faced him ahead.

The screams they must have made
as he waded deeper into the current —
where he was swept away carelessly
by the ruthless water as if he was
just another stick along for a ride.
The tears they must have cried when
he didn’t come up for air.
The pain they must have endured
watching his lifeless body collide
against the rocky riverbank.

Once a childhood paradise
filled with laughter and good fortune
is now a somber space.
And as we get to leave the hell
that tormented our lives and shed our tears,
the trees—whose feet are planted
deep in the soil—cannot.
And their branches hold the weight
of a heavy heart.