Monday, 20 April 2020

Two Season Sycamores

by Joan Leotta

Sycamore trees lined my street,
planted so long before my time that their roots
were already making a crazy quilt
out of the city laid cement sidewalks,
adding several degrees of difficulty
to my roller skating.
I loved their mottled bark,
saving strips, like sacred scrolls,
storing them where my mother
would not find them,
coloring on them with
watercolor brushes
pretending they were messages
from tribes who fished the
lake that once filled the block
where my house now reigned.

In summer, leaves were thick,
shading the mailman as he removed
packs of letters from the brown storage
box. I imagined that there was power
in the key dangling from his long chain,
power to find magic letters in the box
that would open doors between lands,
carry me off from my doorstep
to a place where neighbor children
did not tie new girls to trees and leave
them on while they went inside for lunch.

Winter’s bareness suited my sycamores.
Ice and snow jacketing each branch,
all the way to the tender twigs
stretched out to scratch the sky,
providing temporary resting places for local
sparrows, birds too stubborn to go south.
I sketched these from my window,
loving how the open spaces between
branches let the sun into my room.

Spring’s haze of tender green,
autumn’s mottled yellow green
before leaves die and drop—I
squeeze my head but no such images
spring forth. Those things happened…
well, others tell me so.

* * * * *

Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer, expressing her love of words and desire to encourage others on page and on stage. Her work has been published widely as poems, essays, articles, and books. On stage she most often performs folk and personal tales dealing with food, family, nature, and strong women. She has been published in Writing in Woman’s Voice, Silver Birch, The Ekphrastic Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Tema, and others. Find out more about her work at


  1. I loved those very trees..will always say "home" to me. You give us that imaginative child and her world like a small treasure here!!

  2. Thank you Joan. This was particularly meaningful to me in light of the love that storyteller Gwenda Ledbetter has for a huge Sycamore that shelters her home in Asheville. I wish there was a way for me to send this to her.