John Grey: The Felling of an Old Tree

Ladders, a small crane,
a wealth of power tools,
on one side
and a tree on the other.
The winner is clear
from the first buzz of a chainsaw.

“Take it from the top,”
the workmen may as well shout
as the bright green crown is lopped,
upper boughs detached from sky,
dropped to the ground
to explode like lightning strikes.

Sure, the tree is ancient,
many seasons worth of battering
in its scarred trunk,
and it leans toward the house
as if it’s old-man tired.
but this is like euthanizing a family member.
Who am I to say
when its last breath should be?

The men are no doubt conditioned
to this kind of kill.
They’re like the ones that
hammer cow skulls,
strangle chickens,
extend the human footprint
one death at a time.

The roots will remain of course.
They’ll conspire in silence.
There’s a glow to their intransigency.

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