The Picnic Table



Painted three times: midnight blue,

John Deere green,

Splattered with birthday party colors.

The smile of pride on the boy’s face that he had

Helped build it.

The girl, pleased, skipped away.

She expected people who love her to bring gifts.

The table moved from backyard to backyard

Absorbed drought and hail. Some snow.

Never complained when the puppies used it as a perch

to survey the alley.

But I

I stepped on the seat and felt the joint give

way, pushed one pound too far.

I step back to survey the damage done.

The top is warped. There is a crack that foretells doom.

The whole creation seems ready to bow

to become kindling.


  1. I ran across a picture of the table in my office. It was brand new and unpainted. The kids were sitting at it, both looking very proud.

    Your poem now makes me think of “The Giving Tree” (the children’s book I cannot stand). But now that I’m older, and the kids are older, I wonder if that book isn’t a metaphor for being a parent. We give everything we possibly can of ourselves for their success, joy, and even comfort. The question is, is there a way to do that without becoming kindling or a stump? I hope we can emerge with a little something of ourselves remaining.

  2. Oh, oh. These ‘things’ – they are story-bearers, are they not? So sorry for that sinking feeling as it gave way beneath you, Megan. Hate to tell you this, but the rest of life is filled with small losses like this one. You’ve walked through some big ones, but sometimes it’s the littler ones that cut through to the quick and surprise you with their ferocity. Love your husband’s comment here – reads nicely with your poem.

  3. maybe kindle some romance, and let the table fall where it may.

  4. I love this one, Megan. Made me think of my parents’ picnic table in the backyard. It saw lots of birthday parties, including my sweet 16.

  5. I’m feeling a little bowed myself today.

  6. I like Nance’s suggestion 🙂

  7. Growing up, my table was one my dad made for me so I could have tea with my dolls. When I married, our dining room table was one of those picnic tables with two benches. Later a friend gave us a real table instead of some money he owed us. The picknic table went out in the yard where it belonged.

  8. Hey, everyone. Just want you to know that after John read the poem, he fixed the table and repainted it. And Baylor, you need to sell a BU stencil.

  9. I love when John pops in here. I forgot about your post and am thinking on his words, “is there a way we can do that (parenting) without becoming kindling or a stump?” It might be too late for me unless you know a good handyman. 🙂

    What color is the table now?

    • The table is now a Baylor Green. I’m trying to figure out how to stensil a “BU” on the top in yellow. Frankly, the table just needed two boards to be replaced. Not too bad considering how much weather it has absorbed.