Timir Banerjee, MD, FAANS(L)
Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Louisville
My Willow Tree
I had planted the twig in a place
Such that it wouldn’t shade my vegetables with its shaggy face
As it would grow to adulthood.
I had understood its value as a birthday gift to provide a place to sit in the shade
That would grow near the pond where the soil was just right and moist
I considered that area to be most fit
Cause willow needs the ground to be soft and wet.
The pigs often walked by it in the morning and plowed with their snout
So I never had to fertilize it.
It began to have a few leaves as the summer had progressed
It grew with me and remained my friend
As my relationship in life matured with ups and downs as it should
I often spoke to it in secret
And told it about my troubles, always being discreet
So no one would wonder if I was mentally unfit.
I had noticed some new branches
They were tender and droopy with leaves
I looked at some pictures of Confucius
Sitting next to willow trees
I wondered and pondered about its power to energize great minds.
Despite not being an oak tree
That could stand tall and strong
To symbolize strength in our posture
Even when we are downtrodden and feeling azure.
I had placed a bench next to it
So I could hear it talk to me.
I often sat under its shaggy hair that danced free and wild
I looked through the leaves, much like a Japanese poodle sees the world.
It’s progenitors had come to the New world from the Far East
And had adjusted to the ways of this foreign land and learned about its past
It had maintained its individual appearance for the most part.
As it had stood up to strong winds
To survive the challenges, by being malleable and resilient
With its leaves shivering and disheveled at times
Its association with its neighbors needed a coiffured look now and then
After shaming Medusa by its countenance some mornings sprinkled with morning dew
As it adapted to the new cultural milieu.
I learned about filial piety by reading about it with time
I felt the power, the knowledge imparted on to me
About tolerance, acceptance and empathy
I credited the tree
That I thought taught me to practice the skill of listening
Under which I practiced self-talk by mumbling free
With time it became clear
There is more to life, than besides me.
I developed a broader vision by reading some passages from Analects
I accepted myself in the new environment
Much like the willow tree.
Though at times withered by the wind
But stayed strong and not suffering from lilapsophobia
At times I felt self-conscious possibly like the willow tree being next to pin oaks, mulberry and ash trees
But the willow tree taught me the value of individuality
I held my own in the forest of different trees
And learnt to love the uniqueness of being me!