Monday, December 10, 2012

The Tree

Tree

by Liane Ellison Norman
Today they are cutting down
the old maple in the backyard,

a crew of three men, one
on a machine with long neck

that raises him into high branches;
one who has dismantled a part

of the fence that hugs the tree;
one wearing spikes, his chain saw

and other tools hooked to his belt;
high up, cutting thick branches

among dense leaves, working back
towards the scarred and damaged trunk.

The old maple has blushed faint
green in spring, glowed gold in fall,

spun lace in winter, runway and airport
for squirrels, birds—an owl one year—

a pair of woodpeckers who nested,
laid eggs: a starling killed the chicks.

But it's older than we are old
and might come crashing down.

It's being dismantled, the way
age dismantles, higher branches

cut first, then pruned back
until we can see from the sliced

raw trunk—twelve feet around—
an account of age. At dinner time,

three squirrels, tentative, peer
over the fresh stump,

perplexed that their whole world
has vanished.
"Tree" by Liane Ellison Norman, from Breathing the West: Great Basin Poems. © Bottom Dog Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission

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