In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
Subscribe and Save up to 45%
Two men are cutting the dead maple down:
limbs and branches first, then the trunk
in sections, all the pieces scattered in piles
on the ground out of which it grew.
It’s been released from its enormous weight.
It’s given us this gift of a new view —
now the church and the woods
across the road can stare back at us
through where it stood and labored
to guard our privacy. The regions
of the sky the branches divided have merged
back again into their undefined whole.
All the nests have come crashing down.
No longer will we hear bird song
from that particular quarter: it will not
serve as orientation or point of discussion.
We remark about the extra light,
the new distance its absence
will afford, the extra breezes
traveling through the opened gate.
Death has a way of allowing us to see
beyond where the body formerly stood.
But we have come to love that body
more than the space revealed behind it.
All winter long we’ll hack the remnants
even smaller so they will fit our stove,
where the tree will warm us in its next life. When
it says farewell, it will be as smoke on the air.