The Felling

 

The chainsaw started just after morning traffic thinned

when the tree surgeons came to euthanize the Hickory

that had a hundred years on the house over which it

leaned in a way that always seemed protective, until

 

the sap stopped rising and the leaves hung limp and

the lean felt like trouble to those inside the house, and

they knew the time had come to let it go, but like a

milky-eyed hound who can’t find the exit, it needed help.

 

So the men came to bring the old thing down; two with

ropes who kept to the ground and one wearing spurs who

walked up the trunk and belayed each limb before the saw

sliced like a scalpel through seasons enfolded in the flesh,

 

ages shouldered within forest thick with poplars and oaks

long before the road was cut and houses planted beneath

the boughs, years when deer wove the underbrush with

scent and boys on the hunt with trigger fingers twitching;

 

fifteen decades of cradling the nests of those who made

their homes high, raising young on the bounty of nuts

and air, of crooking slender twigs like fingers to choirs

of birds who came to sit and sing,

 

Here this colossus has stood; witness to the rhythm of

time as only a tree can be. Now it bolts upright, the lean

corrected as the crown is cut and the man with the saw,

lashed to the top, rides the thrashing tree in extremis,

 

until it calms and ropes carry the crown down and the

singers and nest builders chitter and sigh in counterpoint

to the lament of the neighboring giants that toss their

heads with sorrow and shower the ground with leaves.

 

© Dana Hughes  10.28.16

 

2 thoughts on “The Felling

  1. Exquisite grief managed with such dignity. I love your use of quatrains, each holding may attention and keeping me from rushing ahead, as though to give the old Hickory the patient respect it had earned and deeply deserved. And such respect it is: “seasons enfolded in the flesh/ ages shouldered within forest thick with poplars….” This is really lovely.

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