I was a teenaged boy
When I placed
The strange skull
In the crook of the tree.

It was an unblemished specimen
Stripped clean by nature
Its bone and horn
Survivors of the elements.

I envisioned my prize
Above my bed
The indestructible infrastructure
Of a once-living thing.

War was declared.
The skull forgotten.
I was drafted, crippled
Physically, emotionally.

Inย search of peace
I returned to the place
Where my childhood
Memories augured solace.

I found the tree.
Like me, the skull
Was battered; its horn, broken;
Its bone, pitted; its insides, empty.

But the tree, like my family,
Had embraced and protected
The surviving infrastructure
Of a once-living thing.

(Inspired by “Tree Crook“, Friday Fictioneers, madison-woods.com, August 17, 2012.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to “Survivors”

  1. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear VB,

    Survivors is a testament. Well done bringing it to light.



  2. conhippy says:

    This was awesome. I especially like the summary of symbolism at the end.

  3. JKBradley says:

    I enjoyed this journey. Thank you.

  4. The identification of the writer and the tree made the image troubling and deep. Lovely.

  5. You manage to say so much in such few words. Kudos to you!

  6. janet says:

    Oh, most excellent! I pray he recovers even as the skull cannot.

  7. Sandra says:

    Terrific symbolism here – had to read it twice. Well done.

  8. I enjoyed this piece – well done! Support in any form is invaluable, and I like that you focused on that.

    We are here: http://www.lazuli-portals.com/flash-fiction/the-horn-of-trust

  9. rochellewisoff says:

    More prose than poetry. Loved the symbolism and the story itself. Well written and thought provoking.

  10. vbholmes says:

    Many thanks for the great comment! Enjoyed your story and the clever surprise ending.

  11. billgncs says:

    beautiful, lyrical and deep with meaning. One of the best.

  12. keliwright says:

    Beautiful. As a granddaughter, sister, mother of VFWs, this hits close to home, tender and true. If you aren’t a veteran, you have certainly channelled one. Thank you.

  13. vbholmes says:

    Thank you for your wonderful comment. I have a deep and lasting appreciation for our troops and our veterans who have given so much to try to ensure the future of our country.

  14. erinleary says:

    Wow – powerful and lovely. Great use of imagery and words. I especially like the line
    “Where my childhood
    Memories augured solace.”

    Thanks for sharing – this one spoke volumes.

    • vbholmes says:

      Thanks for the nice words–I rather like that line, too, even though my use of augur (a favorite word) could be considered a bit of a stretch. I really liked your association with the horns of a dilemna–never would have thought of that interpretation and its a good one.

  15. Anne Orchard says:

    What a powerful poem. I loved the comparison between the tree and the family. It really made me think.

  16. A beautiful and deep poem, and very well written. Good show! Mine is here and linked: http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/fridayfictioneers-the-withered-flower/

  17. 8teen39 says:

    Wow. I’m floored. I think yours might be my favorite so far. I had a moment’s hesitation with
    “I envisioned my prize
    Above my bed”
    Maybe because it was already in the tree. Were you (your character) imagining it there rather than in the tree? As I said, it was only a moment’s hesitation. I like how you correlated the skull with the survivor. Great job!

  18. vbholmes says:

    Actually, I envisioned the boy temporarily placing the skull in the tree with the intent of taking it home later to mount over his bed. Thanks for the great comment–I enjoyed your story and your unique take on the prompt.

  19. Brian Benoit says:

    Strong, quietly sad story, but it’s nice to see how he’s carried on. Good work, really good.

  20. Russell says:

    this is one of my favorites too. A well crafted poem with a strong message. Great job.

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