Felling Centuries

Colby Chester

Minutes can pass
between the first dull thwacks against the wedge
to force submission and the huge trunk's final
list to death, or so it seems when you watch
a logger fall a giant.

He moves aside, wide shoulders dusty
in a shawl of kerf, his saw's whine mute at last,
swipes a stiffened arm across his sweat-seamed brow
then leans against the handle of a tool that takes
no credit for this Herculean feat. And then

so sluggishly it seems that it will never yield,
that immense accumulation of water, earth and air cants
downward, fibers popping, then groaning, then
screeching as if centuries of weathered winds and storms
and droughts were all expressed at once, and with its

verdant crown blurring, the beast that raised
no fists, thrust no horns, brought no contagion to the land
it softly nourished, bluntly thunders to the ground,
its shock-waves rumbling for a massive instant before all
is still, so still the forest seems distraught with shame; and

what was just before a thick, prolific world lies
broken now, exposed-- a fallen god that cries for clouds
to shade its nakedness. Then all that's left is stump,
a jagged ridge of splinters--pale fingers

reaching for the sky.


The 2River View, 3_1 (Fall 1998)