The elm in my morning coffee.


Elm tree, blue sky
Farewell, beautiful.

I’m going to say it straight out. Somebody’s going to die tomorrow.
Actually, I’m sure, lots of somebodies will die, but there’s one in particular
that I’m thinking of tonight.

Nothing lasts forever.
Joy comes, and goes.
Seasons come, and go.
Grief comes and goes, too.
Whole countries, entire species,
blazing stars in the sky—
come and go.
Tomorrow the elm tree outside
my west-facing windows will be taken down.

Chain saws will whir and bite.
It will be fast, the end.

Tonight I’m saying goodbye.

I get it.
It’s become dangerous, the elm.

Too big for its place. It has to go.
It could hurt someone.

(Hurt is part of life)

Joy comes, and goes.
I will miss her outstretched limbs
reflecting in my morning coffee in summer,
I will miss her golden leaves in the fall.

She healed me, that tree.

I spent hours looking up at her.
I owe her a lot, I think.
I wish I could tell her:

She gave me the gift of learning to just be.
To laugh and cry and and let go of what was and be myself alone.
(Though I suppose I wasn’t ever really alone; she was there?)
I’ll carry her gift with me, planted like a seed
rooting in my heart.

I’m getting more comfortable with impermanence.
Better at letting go.
Better at grief.
It’s just a tree, after all,
a little piece of heaven,
exhaling oxygen
patiently teaching me how to breathe in life.


The elm in my morning coffee.
The elm in my morning coffee.


Published by

Elaine Olund

I'm a writer, artist and designer who thinks way too much, and tries to see the beauty in the world.

6 thoughts on “impermanence”

  1. I cried immediately. As long as I can remember, walking home from school seeing a tree come down or one there one day gone the next, I was always saddened. A wonderful poem. Teaching me to breathe. Thank you.

  2. Oh, my. This made me cry, maybe because I am in a state of prolonged grief in my life. But, I also cried for this tree and what it meant to you. Another thing of beauty to let go of.💔

  3. I had a very old tree I used to visit as a child that grew along the Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx. My private name for it was, Grandfather Tree. I would hug it every chance I got; but the hug I remember best was the hug goodbye. I silently/solemnly promised Grandfather Tree that I would visit him again. Decades later, after I’d weathered over a dozen moves, my mother called to tell me that the trees along Mosolu Parkway had been chainsawed and hauled away due to some administrative error. I’d thought myself fairly jaded by then. But I realized the gift of that tree had been rooted in my heart all along.

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