I was cleaning out my storage unit and came across the book of poems I wrote as a young girl – the book a publisher wanted to publish back when I was 15. (I politely declined – these were my private poems and not meant for public viewing.)
This poem, which I wrote when I was 14, is dedicated to anyone who ever longed to feel ordinary, who ever wanted to dim their light and sparkle less, so they could fit in. If you’ve ever felt like an outsider, this one’s for you.
I still tear up when I read this. And I have to admit that nothing has changed very much. I hope this resonates with some of you, and if it doesn’t, be gentle. This is still pretty fragile stuff for me.
By Lissa Rankin, age 14
A strong, sturdy tree rose up to the sky
With green leaves that swayed in the breeze.
Where the vegetation was stunted and dry
He rose above all other trees.
His tree trunk was stronger, his blossoms more bright
The bark on his trunk was more brown.
His roots had more water, his branches, more height
Leaves circles his head like a crown.
The small, shorter trees envied his height
And his long arms which sprung with new birth
For the tips of this tree were not even in sight
While their tops were just feet from the earth.
But they didn’t realize the problems that came
With branches that spoke to the sun.
He sometimes disliked not feeling the same
And he often missed out on their fun.
Because he was tall and his limbs rose with ease
The children could not climb around.
Instead, they played on the littler trees
Whose branches were close to the ground.
His fruit were not picked by the people nearby;
His limbs were too high to be sought.
Instead, they enjoyed from the small trees’ supply
With his luscious fruit left to rot.
But the big tree rarely shared his complaint.
And the small trees did not know his strife.
“You’re odd,” they would say, “Why you’re nearly a saint
What more could you want from your life?”
So he just remained calmly, his head in a cloud,
Attempting to bend his knees,
So that he would look shorter- and not quite so proud –
Just like the tinier trees.
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