The Ancient Tree That Hugged Me

I only remember you as an old lady
Wrinkles crawling across your face
Like lines on a dry walnut
Bestowed by time

I was a green walnut
Smooth-skinned, tender
No memories yet to store
I had no lines

But the ancient tree saw it all:
The sandcastle I built alone
The meals you fed me
The red balloon I tried to push through the window

You were there, all along
Till the green walnut turned yellow
Finally, lines to hold memories
Yet I moved on

Arms grew longer

I never hugged that ancient tree again
The day they cut it down
A leaf fell off my skin

You started shrivelling
Tottering on the way home
Where you used to chase after me
40 metres became a burden

You were like a general marching into the chemo room
Across the corridor haunted by fears and tears
You were like that ancient tree
Valiantly reaching to the sky

One day
When I turn into a dry walnut
I’ll tell the green little ones
The tale of two ancient trees

*This poem was selected as part of To Let the Light In, an anthology edited by Sing Lit Station in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network. 

(APHN, 2021)

(APHN, 2021)