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My Daughter Says
Joe Cottonwood


My daughter says

every tree has a soul.

Some are good, some are bad.

But always, a soul.

My daughter is young enough

to know these things.

My daughter says also

some trees have a spirit.

(But only the good trees.)

People, too.

She is old enough 

to say these things.

Guided by spirit, we can grow 

from the crack in a boulder.

We can lift sidewalks.

We bend and yet are strong.

We flower, we bear fruit, we give seed.

We are where the raccoon sleeps, 

the hawk nests, the monkeys play.

Without the spirit we twist, 

we wither, we break.

With the spirit our roots take hold. 

My daughter knows. So young, so old.

This poem first appeared in Dove Tales.
Used here with the author's permission.





Joe Cottonwood is a semi-retired contractor with a lifetime of small jobs repairing homes. He lives with his high school sweetheart under redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, caring for curly-haired dogs and straight-haired grandchildren. Joe's latest book is Random Saints. Learn more about him at




Post New Comment:
Lovely, my daughter is an old soul too.
Posted 06/03/2023 05:39 AM
Great and moving tribute to children and their wisdom! Janice
Posted 01/19/2017 03:54 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautifully expressed.
Posted 01/18/2017 01:41 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I love this poem. It is so powerful, full of metaphors, unique images and wisdom. The last stanza is brilliant. And yes, children are wise and we can learn from them.
Posted 01/18/2017 08:01 AM
Larry Schug:
The daughter always knows, the poet pays attention.
Posted 01/18/2017 07:28 AM
Very nicely done!
Posted 01/18/2017 06:57 AM

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