Ed Shannon The 2River View, 10.1 (2005)

Silver oaks spread long roots, thick
and twisting, emissaries of abandon,
push sod away, stretch to foundations
—house, bare feet, other trees far
and near. I cut away volunteers rising
from base, twice as thick as my thumb,
bundled and tied in six foot lengths
for recyclers to haul away. But roots?
Do I dare to take axe in hand and chop,
pull them away from cemented blocks of
basement? Like hair some things are easy
to trim and discard, but these courtiers
of moisture, nourishment, survival, how does
one cut that deep, risk destruction, loss
of shade that eases stretching out and up?

In back yard, next to the flowering plum,
a lilac bush, choked with wild grape vines,
maintains dead branches in forlorn hope.
Chainsaw takes lilac and vine as close to
earth as possible. I leave two trees rising
from this tangle of death and life. One grows
solid and branching, the other a single feeble
trunk, bent, leaning to the safety of numbers.
Gnarled stumps and bare dirt circle stronger
brother, weaker, yearning sibling. In high
limbs abandoned vines brown and wither, dark
homage to what was. I think of plum tree
carved to overturned bowl, like those gracing
homes in carefully sculpted developments. Not
today, not with warm rain tapping skull where
hair once flourished, not today, not today.

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