Sunday, May 27, 2012



I was staring at the dead white ash,
at the two holes in the bark, like two
framed pictures had been hanging there,
then removed, then the nails ripped out.
White X’s painted on hundreds
of ash trees that summer, and more
next year, we knew already, as the babies
grew into beetles, green, the same
oily iridescence as a fly. Damn
Emerald Ash Borers
, we said to folks
who asked, but secretly, I knew we felt
grateful for that work. Like I said,
I chose a tree to start with, lifted the ax,
noticed the holes. That’s when the ash
handle started shaking, sliding out
from between my hands as I tried
to trap it. I hollered but the men
were too far to hear me, only a few
of us, anyway. The ax floated, inches
above my hands, rotating, trembling.
No voice in my throat now, nothing
to say with it. Above us, me and the ax,
a woodpecker lit into one of these
trees. Quiet besides that. There goes
the handle, it spun away from me,
like a wide open door swings shut
when pushed. The blade was facing
me, looking back at me. I knew
it would strike. I backed up, still
looking at it, still holding my arms
out to it but my palms up. Woodpecker
again. And the blade lunging past
my cheek, into my left shoulder.


  1. Oooh, scary! Dramatic!

    So is the picture!

  2. jesusgod, when forests fight back. but truthfully i, of course, wanted to know why, all the while knowing why.



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