Bicycle Tree

I’ve been exchanging poems with Liz Steinglass for National Poetry Month. It’s been a fun challenge and a treat to find Liz’s mostly desk-inspired poems in my inbox each day. I started the month looking for a theme and for a few days wrote poems about trees. Then I stumbled on a different theme, but today I’m sharing one of the tree poems. It was inspired by an amazing photo that my daughter found on the internets, taken on Vashon Island in Washington state. (We did not see this tree when we took our kiddos to Vashon, where my husband’s sister lives, almost 20 years ago. But it is high on my list if/when we return.)

Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem from
Photo by Ethan Welty/Tandem

Bicycle Tree

On a cool spring night
a boy leaned his red bicycle
against a young fir tree
and wandered away.

The bicycle waited patiently
for the boy’s return.

The tree grew and grew,
enveloping the frame,
embracing and lifting it
higher and higher.

Fifty years later
when the boy returned

along the road that had crumbled
past the house that no longer stood
through the woods that had grown
to the giant tree that shadowed the ground

the rusty bicycle, no longer leaning,
half-swallowed by wood and bark,

still waited.

–Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved

There are a lot of stories floating around the internet about how the bike ended up in the tree. Here’s one that may or may not be true.

Be sure to visit Renee at No Water River for the complete Poetry Friday roundup. Happy Final Friday of National Poetry Month!18923_original



23 thoughts on “Bicycle Tree

  1. Miranda walked in while I had your post on screen, read your poem, and said: “Oh gosh, that is SO COOL!” Ditto what she said. You carry the bike’s story into your poem beautifully, Buffy. There’s PB potential too, if you might want to take it there.

  2. We live in Seattle, but I’ve never seen that photo before – time to take that ferry ride to Vashon and find that loyal, patient little bike!

  3. I’ve seen that photo before and I think it should be married to your poem — it’s perfect! Well done, Buffy!

  4. Hi Buffy, I’ve really enjoyed sharing poems this month. This is one of my favorites. I find it so haunting. I love the way it lets us see the passage of time.

  5. This was fascinating because I always want to know the story behind things, people, events, behavior… I clicked the link and enjoyed all the other stories too, including the sheriff’s. Thanks for sharing, Buffy!

  6. It’s rather sad to think of the bicycle still waiting for the boy, all grown up now, away! Lovely story, & I haven’t seen the picture before. Amazing, isn’t it? I saw two trees in a backyard once where they had held a board between them, let them grow & encompass the board, hence a bench. Wonder how many other stories like this? Thanks Buffy!

  7. This is lovely, Buffy. I’ve seen that picture too and wondered about the story.
    My brother’s ranch in TX has trees with ancient barbed wire embedded in the trunks. It’s not as inspiring, but somehow similar.

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