“The Holly Bush” by Nancy A Caldwell


One holly bush grew behind the house,
the garage, and a sour apple
tree, in a small space, a secret
place, guarded by a splendid
hedge and fence.

My brother and I played tether ball;
my father attached that ball to a tall iron post
with a rope, and we swung at it for hours.
We laughed until tears ran
down our cheeks, then Tommy hit
that ball so far over my head,
that I stomped
and I cried and he fled.

That left me alone with the holly
bush, its leaves, forest
green, curved and pointed.
I touched it until dots
of red popped out, then
disappeared on my tongue.

When I moved away from that bush,
for the first time I
noticed beads, like tiny red
buttons, dotted it,
and they made me forget my fury.

Long after I grew up, I visited
that holly, but there in the snow,
stood a tree, not a bush.
It puffed out so much
that it looked down on me,
but now I know better than to touch
that tree, so large, so beautiful, and so grand.