by Johanna Herrick

I prune my lime tree
under the luminous moon
of early evening. The citrus
smell of broken leaves
is pungent and wonderful.
I know the cutting will make
the tree stronger, more beautiful.
It trusts me and responds to the pain,
for already, even the order of shaping
has produced a different mood for us;
the discarded sprigs on the ground
ring the tree like a variegated lime lei,
my offering to this faithful tree,
my promise that things will change
between us.

As I pause in the process —
breathe, observe, feel —
I encounter the tree, ceasing
to be an “it”and transforming
itself into Buber’s “Thou.”
In this new, reciprocal relationship,
we move toward holiness, the tree and I,
as I whisper, “You, tree.”


Johanna Herrick has for over thirty years worked as an English teacher, librarian, and teacher trainer. Her passion for writing poetry is part of a broader quest for the spiritual interconnectedness of all things. She and her husband, a retired librarian, live in Vancouver, Washington, but the tree in “Pruning” is a lime tree in the yard of their home in Hilo, Hawaii where they lived for 25 years. She has published numerous poems in small literary journals.

The above poem is excerpted with permission from
Tree Stories: a Collection of Extraordinary Encounters
ed. by Warren Jacobs and Karen I. Shragg
Sunshine Press, Hygeine, CO (2002)
Available at