A bookmark with a painting of a tree brought some solace to a grieving postal clerk.

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While out of town, I had to go to a post office. Unlike the Evanston post offices I had experienced, where the tables on which customers could write were located away from the postal clerks’ windows, in this post office the one continuous surface on which customers could write was located just below the clerks’ windows.  

As I filled out a form a couple of windows down from a female clerk, I overheard her tell a customer that she had lost a sister and a niece. I did not hear any details of their deaths.

When I finished filling out my form, I asked the next man in line if he would let me give the clerk something. He nodded permission. I went to the clerk and said I had overheard her speak of her loss.

I expressed my condolences, then said, “I’d like to give you something.” I gave her a bookmark with my painting of a tree on it.  

Oh my. She took it and touched my hand. Her eyes lit up, and she smiled.  

She thanked me and thanked me and talked about how important trees were to her.  She talked about their strength, the stages of their existence, how they shed their leaves, sometimes appearing to be dead but coming back to life. We acknowledged that it was really wonderful that we had bonded because of a painting of a tree.

Art and hearts together. 

As I left, I heard her go over to the other clerk and tell him about her tree bookmark. I thought of the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. 

Trees
by Joyce Kilmer* 

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair; 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain. 
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree. 

*Joyce Kilmer, 1886-1918; American writer, poet, journalist, lecturer. Listen to the poem “Trees” as sung by Paul Robeson

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...

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  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Kilmer

    There is a plaque honoring Mr,/ Sergeant Kilmer at the below cited location . I’m mindful of him every time I pass by on my bicycle or car.

    This little triangle at the intersection of Rogers, Birchwood and Ashland is named the “Joyce Kilmer Triangle.” It is not known why this World War I-era poet is honored with a plaque, considering that he has no known connection to Rogers Park or Chicago. Interestingly enough, there is also a grade school named for him about a mile south of here.