Judy Brackett

Kate and Barbara and Me

When Barbara Walters asked Katharine Hepburn

what tree she'd be had she been born a tree,

everyone laughed—such a silly question!

I can't remember Ms. Hepburn's reply;

she may have simply snorted or shot her

famous interlocutor that famous

withering, suffer-no-fools-gladly look.

(Imagine the size of the stork!) Maybe

Ms. Walters didn't say "born." Maybe she

asked, "If you could be some kind of tree . . . ?"

I wonder if, given her directness and

wit, Katharine of Arrogance might have said,

"Sequoiadendron gigantium." But

that grand Pacific tree doesn't have her

New England spark or spare tenacity.

My guess? She'd be some Connecticut

hemlock alone on a windswept cliff, the North

Atlantic thrashing far below. Silly

question? Hmmm. As for me, I'd like to be

a graceful Douglas fir, my soft gray-green-

needled, lacy branches flared like pretty

peasant skirts—in wintertime cradling snow,

in spring my new needles celery green. No,

I'd likely be some midwestern tree and

not even know my fancy Latin name—

a Plains cottonwood, prairiewindswept,


asymmetric, with small saffron flowers

that only birds and bugs see, my white seed-

puffed fluff drifting like snow across sunscorched

fields and meadows, my leaves a scratchy


rustling in the fall, my shallow roots in

some meandering creek. No one would think


to ask me what flower or season or
body of water I would choose to be.


Judy Brackett's stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Other Voices, Alaska Quarterly Review, Squaw Valley Review, The Fourth River, James Dickey Review, Wisconsin Review, THEODATE, Sierra Songs & Descants (Hip Pocket Press), and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets (Backwaters Press), as well as other publications. She is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and has taught creative writing and English literature and composition at Sierra College. A native of Nebraska, she has lived in California's northern Sierra Nevada foothills for many years.



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