Fallen Tree

[StoryADay May Prompt: “Finding Your Voice” (and also my response to The Writers Studio exercise this week.)]

Simon arrived in his hometown to visit
his sister and her family, but the emergency backyard
situation required more than just this demolition crew;
the fallen tree required a chainsaw, and dad was happy

to share his, his pickup to truck away the debris,
and his time. Simon said he was fine, and besides,
there was work to be done, his sister and brother-in-law
and their children as buffers, and a tree to hide behind, its querying

branches tangled in the trees and bushes around it,
pointing through them at the house as if to say Retrieve me,
I’ve fallen out of comfortable height. They began clipping
and pulling at what they could, and when dad arrived

and the family wandered round front to greet him, Simon
took his place, shook the man’s hand, and thought about
how the desert had trees, too, brought in by founders and
developers and migrating masses to intrude among the cactus

and shrubs tall pieces of former greener homes. The weather
in the Pacific Northwest was much cooler and they worked
under the cooling mists of occasional drizzle, with enough sun
to work the gray away and dazzle out all of nature’s

colors. They piled the branches on the thick green lawn
in the backyard. They stacked thicker brown logs for burning as the chainsaw
under blue smoke made progress back toward the sharply bent and shattered
stump that deemed it time to break after a month

of heavy spring rains worked the soil under the tree into putty,
as if calling upon golem to rise and dance to avoid whipping
tree branches settling for the ground instead of the sky.
Sawdust made the air fragrant and sneezable. Simon worked

to breakdown the larger fragments into carriable cargo
that would fit nicely in the back of dad’s truck. Dad
suggested Simon not take on more than he could handle.
This isn’t a race. The tree grew backward, from majestic

shader to twiggy shaded, a hundred twigs, hundreds,
among the logs and leaves and sawdust and Simon’s sense
of time. It was easy to be clumsy and complex again
in a pile once removed from the site of the tree and

then twice removed as it was shifted round the front
of the house and into dad’s truck. The birds would have wanted
to play in the pile had there been no one around to fear. The squirrels, too.
They kept their distance but didn’t give up their sounds,

so that they would be there when the chainsaw finished,
the rest of the shuffling racket, and the sound of the
truck’s engine pulling away after Simon said goodbye
and stood back to let his sister and her family

carry out their much longer goodbyes and plans
to meet dad for breakfast in a few days. In the backyard,
the stump would need removal, but for now it was, in the children’s
playing, a table, and they found plenty of items to place on top.

StoryADay May 2016 Day 22

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.