So there is this tree that I drive by every day that I leave the house.

A long time ago, this tree grew up around this sharp-edged rock
(Probably shale).
As it grew, a corner of the rock became lodged in the trunk.
And so, the rock was lifted up off the ground
(about a foot).
You can only see it when you are driving North
and sometimes I will go seasons when I forget about it.
But it stays with me,
like an itch I can’t scratch.
As if I could scrape off a scab of longing
and ease some pain inside my heart
by removing the rock from the tree
and dropping it unceremoniously on the ground.
I’m usually driving too fast to stop,
but my mind remains on the tree and the rock.

As the tree grew around the rock,
did it embrace it or carry on in spite of its unusual burden?
Who am I to remove the rock?
Maybe the tree and the rock need each other
and I am interfering in something I have no business in.
Who am I to leave the rock?
How many times did I look the other way
when I could have helped someone or something?

It makes me think of the word “cleave”,
our old friend with the double meaning.
Cleave from in all of it gradations,
from ice floes calving to the simple separation of muscle and bone.
Cleave to, which never sounded right to me,
but I suppose you can to cleave to another’s breast.

It makes me think of all the ways
I push and pull people I love towards and away from me
As well as people I have yet to love
in an effort to find some kind of balance with
boundaries, autonomy, love.

It makes me think of all the times I’ve shut down
in an agony of indecision
trying to figure out if the rock is Cleaving to
or the tree is Cleaving from
the sharpness of both rejection and acceptance.