A.T.C.

By Pete Tucker

A.T.C. carved initials in this tree
In Nineteen Hundred and Eight.
I never knew the chap.
Found his carvings scores too late.

But his initials have long served notice
To the occasional passer by
An oasis here beckons
If one would but occupy.

A.T. chose this Beech tree
On which to leave his mark.
He knifed in the perfect condition.
He carved the perfect bark.

Shrewd of him to know, as well
That  years later would come to be
A kinship at this wooded spot
Between A.T.C. and me.

And how might that have happened?
How could it possibly be?
It’s simple in retrospect.
We had a common tree!

No need to know the date in time,
Though here it plainly be.
I know the beauty here is ageless.
Surely, too, did A.T.C.

We chat here occasionally.
I have questions about his life.
Was the world a gentler place, A.T.,
When you wielded your knife?

Perhaps not, I venture to guess,
The world was soon at war.
Were trenches in your future, A.T.?
Were you there when cannons roared?

Or, did you stay here on the farm?
Your trenches but windrows.
An empty mow and threatening rain,
With luck, your only foes.

And do tell me, if you would, A.T.
Of this farm many years ago.
There are tools that you left.
That much I’ve come to know.

I’ve tried to keep up the place,
Pay homage to your farming feat.
And, know that our spot still calls,
Here where the three streams meet.

But, I need to tell you
Before it slips my mind.
If a walker happens by today,
Your initials he will not find.

There was a storm years back,
A cyclic wind did blow.
Uprooting our special tree,
Damage so to sad to know.

You see, A.T., my secret to tell,
Years after your mark in our tree
I, too, borrowed a page in its bark.
For decades it read ‘P.T.’

In this place where we once carved,
Smaller Beeches do yet grow.
Will others come to favor this place?
We can only hope to know.

We were both once blessed, A.T. and me.
Alas, it remains to see
If a wandering youngster happens by again
And is blessed to find our canopy.