When I was in elementary school, there was a newsletter that came out called ‘The Headliner’ where children could submit poems. For me it was never a question of whether to submit, but rather what to submit.
Then a writer came along who validated everything I thought I knew about writing. He told me to create something no matter how crazy, he told me there could be magic in a puzzle piece lying on the sidewalk.
If you Google Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’, you will find that countless people have tried to analyze it. There are religious connotations, environmental interpretations, and even some sickos who see the boy and the tree as having a sadomasochistic relationship. I think Shel Silverstein was just trying to show us love.
But, looking back on that book, after all these years, I think Shel Silverstein is The Giving Tree. His words, the fruits and branches that we delighted in as children, his books something we could give to our children when we get older, and the companionship of his literature, something we can take with us into old age.
Whenever my children choose this book as the one they want read to them, I’m always a little apprehensive. They look at each other in embarrassment and wonder why silly old mommy’s voice starts to catch in her throat, why tears are coming from her eyes.
Shel Silverstein has done so much for me, so much for the world, I feel like the least I can do is pay it forward, if only in a very, very small way.
Shel Silverstein, where have you gone?
Gone where the sidewalk ends?
Or in the sky polishing stars
With three headed Ann and her friends?
Shel Silverstein where are you now?
You were taken away too soon
Bored in the Land of Happy?
Or trying to catch the moon?
Your words like branches to play in,
I read them again and again,
And now that I have children of my own,
I’ll give the books to them.
And maybe when I’m old and gray,
And your books are torn with wear,
I’ll sit on an old tree stump and read them,
And pretend that you are there.
Cause there’s something whistling on the wind,
That let’s me know without a doubt,
That when I see that light in the attic shine,
You’re on the inside looking out.