Poet Laureate of Cobourg

Maple Tree Community

Happy Canada Day, Cobourg! It was an honour to share a new poem today at Cobourg’s Canada Day Festivities.

Today I want to celebrate kindness, compassion, and generosity; to celebrate Canadian communities from coast to coast like this one that are filled with inspiring people like you; to celebrate you for coming together today; and, to celebrate the beauty and significance of the stunning natural landscape we all share.

This poem is called “Maple Tree Community” and it is dedicated to the culture of volunteerism in the Town of Cobourg and across Canada to celebrate Canada Day 2019. Thank you to the many volunteers who dedicate hours of their time to our communities and to those who make this special weekend wonderful.

Have you ever noticed that a maple leaf looks like your hand? It has five points radiating from the centre, like your five fingers spreading out from your palm. It’s called a palmate leaf and the points are called palmate lobes.

Maple Tree Community
© Jessica Outram
The first palmate lobe:
Robin in my garden whispered secrets of the maple,
(a Birdseye maple is a staple in this fable)
‘bout a tree as the symbol for kind-hearted volunteers,
big branches, bold leaves transform, my dears.
“Why maple?” asked Warbler sitting out on a limb.
“It’s Canada, of course,” said Robin with a grin.
“Maple is sweetest of all the trees we know
our flying friends discovered long ago.”
The second palmate lobe:
So imagine Old Forest, lush and tall
an active ecosystem for big and small
plants and animals and insects too
serenely below a vast sky of blue.
The third palmate lobe:
One day cried Cardinal, screeched Owl, chirped Jay,
sky turned grey and balance fell away
so the day and the way that we lived went astray.
Then Grumpy Gull plopped a gooey on my head as it said,
“we’d lost our sense of place so we left to find the trace,
and thus, began to chase,
picking up the pace but we nearly erased—
the understanding of ourselves.”
Birds flew as birds fly high through the sky
while bugs and squirrels and bears and hares
scurried about who knows where
attending to their own affairs.
The fourth palmate lobe:
Since roots of maples sunk deeply in earth
our trees chose to stay behind and lurk in the dearth of the birth, 
this time of change.
The sweetness of the wisdom of Maples know the truth:
balance can be found in the trunks of these sooths.
By giving they protect and nourish and grow,
a core so strong that as harsh winds blow
–they cannot lose flow.
Maples stayed and waved and swayed and gave
Home and fuel, sap, shade and flower,
cycles of time and life, seasons of community power,
asking for nothing in return
but to stand
The fifth palmate lobe:
In time, brave Hummingbird flew home amazed to see
Maples standing brilliantly.
Shining news spread fast that forest endured,
safe returns knowing the balance secured.
Kind branches wildly welcomed everyone home
amid changing
colours of leaves.

Listen to a reading of the poem: