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Felled Tree


Dear swollen-trunk maple, deemed
diseased by the saw-happy tree guy,
you who have stood silently, supposedly
slipping your ailment through your roots
to the neighboring trees, now fallen
full blast down, geometrically down,
right angle, then parallel at last, your flat-
sawn stump blotched with incriminating
evidence—you came and leafed
and are gone, and I who have grown old
in your lifetime, who intuited you rather
than knew you, felt you in my bones,
now feel the slightly thinner woods,
the hint of frailty. Scott the tree guy
has carried your eighteen-inch logs in his
red wheelbarrow and stacked them
for winter: a little Williams, a little Frost.
   Oh tree, everywhere I look
I have to pledge reclamation, fill
the forest floor with ferns, mushrooms,
pine needles, and in the side corner
place the outhouse, practically unused
anymore, still in good shape, emitting
its rich human-waste smell, its wood
smell, its few spiders climbing
their trellises with their sticky feet.
Oh tree, so much has been discovered
to fill in the space where you were:
seven new species of Philippine
forest mice, a new genus of blind
Bulgarian beetle, four new species
of jewel beetles, six of New World
micromoths. I have filled my note cards,
I have left the vertical space open
for the Ur-tree, the canonical vision
that will take your place, even the stigmata,
your bulged and arthritic joints, the
whither of your leaving, the grand word
whither standing where you were.


Fleda Brown

The Southern Review

Summer 2012


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