The Baby Tree by Shannon Foster

She stands in the sun

Proudly displaying her branches and leaves

But one of her branches is sick

It has to be cut off so she can live


We cut off the sick branch

And as if by a miracle

She has grown her remaining branches

In the space the sick branch used to be


It seems as though she knew

Something was missing

So she fixed the space

Where the brokenness had been


I am neurodivergent

In about 3 different ways

I have Dyscalculia

Along with Depression



Like the baby tree

who stands in my backyard

My brain knew it was different

In one area

So it filled the empty space

Where the brokenness had been 


Letters and words

Are easy to control

They stand still

Waiting patiently

For me to put them in order

To create a story

A poem

A play

My mind weaves words together

In a manner that mimics magic


But my mind tricks me

When my eyes see numbers

They transpose and move

Switching places

Like dancers practicing



I wish I were the choreographer

For numbers

The way I am for letters

But numbers don’t listen to me

Instead they fly all over

My mind

Like fireflies refusing

To be caught on a warm

Summer’s eve


I did not decide

To be this way

People look at me

And see visible ability

They can’t see my

Invisible disabilities

So I am judged the same way

neurotypical people are


My learning disability

And depression

kept me from

Finishing my college degree

For an entire decade

Strike that:

The expectations

set forth by a society

that assumes everyone

is the same

has kept me

from accomplishing

my dreams

But I have accepted

That I have to jump

Through the hoops

Set before me

So I can reach the point

Where I can make changes

For others who struggle

The way I have


Not all people learn

In the same way

Not all trees grow

In the same way

Today I am 31

Starting over at the place

Society says

I should have started at 21


I’m not ashamed

to be neurodivergent

I’m proud to be different

But I wish the world

Were more accepting

Of different kinds 

Of people

Especially those  

Who cannot

Fit the mold society

Forces on us


I don’t blame the baby tree

In my backyard

For one of her branches

Being absent

I am in awe

Of how she kept going

And growing

Reaching into the sky

Refusing to let go of life

Even after she lost a branch


I have blamed myself

My entire life

Because I could not

Understand math

Or science

Or learn directions

Or remember numbers

Or keep track of time 

Or stay on task 

Or accomplish everything 

Everyone around me

Seemed to be accomplishing


I was surviving 

While others were thriving

Now I am finally in a place 

Where I am free to explore 

Who I am 

Because I now know 

Why I am 

The way I am 

And I am beginning 

To thrive 


I wish I were as proud 

Of myself 

As I am 

Of the baby tree 

In my backyard

She keeps on living

And taking up space

She goes on existing

She is not ashamed 

Of her difference

She keeps her focus

On the sun above

This baby tree is whole 

She is not broken 

She never truly was


And the sun shines down on her

Blessing her leaves

Proudly providing

This life giving substance


The sun is proud of her

I wish I were my own sunlight


I am my own sunlight