The Tree — A Poem for the Future of NAAEE

Illustration of yellow and light brown-green text that reads: "The Tree: A Poem for the Future of NAAEE"

NAAEE featured Aimee Nezhukumatathil's beautiful piece, "The Tree — A Poem for the Future of NAAEE," during the NAAEE 2021 Annual Conference. We're excited to share it on eePRO as a source for reflection and inspiration.

Written and narrated by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. The video was directed by James Parker. Animations by Kseniya Meleshchuk, Andrey Dudko, Illya Tkachenko, Iryna Lubianska.

Watch the video on YouTube.

The Tree — A poem for the future of NAAEE

What idea grows inside of you like a tree 
to summon the magic of power in education?

The birds have already claimed their trees. 

The hawk, the chalky white-faced titmouse—
all have claimed their trees. 

Even the moon claimed her tree. But what tree has claimed YOU? 

By which I mean, what is the name of the tree in you?

Are its branches climbable, ready for a tree house complete with a spy window and rope swing 
to dangle in its lap? 

Is your tree edged in apples 
and the hum of drunk wasps? Does the tree in you whisper? Does it crackle and snap in a storm? 

Or maybe you can’t help but pick up a chartreuse catalpa leaf—wider than my father’s brown face—and carry it like an extravagant fan down the block. 

Creamy blossoms of little gem magnolias dot some streets with exclamations, and cardinals chirp out metallic songs when they find the perfect pecan or elm to call their own. 

Maybe you don’t know the name—but you know its particular shape, how you can draw the outline of it with a soft pencil, or the taste of its juice and bitter bark. 

Perhaps you remember how its leaves fit the inner curve of your hand and one time when you were nine, after an argument, your mother found you hiding underneath one.

She just brought you some lemonade and didn’t say a thing. 

Just sat next to you under that tree while you sipped.

How you remember the silver shimmer of that tree when you and her walked back home in silence, 
holding hands—what if you can’t for the life of you remember what that tree is called? 

When power in education becomes a force, grows 
into a tree, you take steps toward a more just 
and sustainable world. 

Education we need for a world we want. 

A place where every job is a green job, every school is a green school, and every home is a green home.

Breathe easy—that tree is already in you. The roots of it have already grown so strong.

Come on, let’s help it flourish—