How to Count Rings of a Tree

1, 2, 3…

Better not dig

under that lemon tree.

Back, back to when nest egg rests on pennies, and little piggy banked on peek-a-birthday riches, I can still see those $10 checks from grandmamma. As the years fling another ring around the sun, another $10 would be mailed in a well of wishes. Yet, even when my voice hopped, crackled, and lengthened, the amount of grandmama’s gift still stays at a fixed heart rate. All of which lead me to double check my checkbook: why didn’t she adjust for my budgeted growth, like the rising height of my inflation or the weighty matter of my gross living adjustment?

…4, 5, 6…

Or I’ll make lemonade mix

out of you

with a peppermint stick.

What $10 charged back when I was still carrying a lunch bag, no longer spells the same healthy wealth in my 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, or 50’s. Then, “Bingo!” all of life lingo rings up: no matter how many times life changes or spare-changes me; her check will always be penned as $10. No matter how many times it is inked in the wrinkle of Hamilton’s, its heart is stocked in awe of grandmama’s love, prized from year 1 to my X’s. And no matter what my age was or will be, $10 or her loving investment in me will stay forever young.

…7, 8, 9…

Fine. Keep on climbing

those sweet grape vines.

So, to that day when grand old trees still bloom pink with heirloom, family root branches forever tomorrow, and the year bears another timely, $10, greenback—if this leafed true—grandmama and her love for me shines lively as then as forever, and that wraps the grandest gift of all.

…and 10 gotcha!

I’m gonna tickle you

till you sing la-di-da.


Lee Minh Sloca was born in Vietnam, from which he escaped two weeks prior to its collapse and now resides in Los Angeles, CA where he focuses on poetry, prose, and painting.