Cutting Down the Anniversary Pine


Cutting Down the Anniversary Pine

Things expand. Plans change. Clouds disperse,
people move. I remember swimming

through a dream’s warm water, and rising
for air only to find that I no longer lived

within that need, in that space demanding
the physiological transport of oxygen,

where the laws of physics reigned supreme,
and geometry, with a little luck, posited

all the right questions. And then the clock
blared and morning slammed me back.

Trees grow, as do needs and lives and even
cottages. We took down the dead Jack pine

that year, and drank skip-and-go-nakeds
by the pitcherful, while mosquitoes swarmed

me and ignored everyone else. It’s important,
but I still can’t recall the white pine, nor

where you planted it forty-three years ago.
Symbol or not, its treeness intrudes.

So we suffer these things with age, and if
what we cut down carries meaning beyond

cellulose and shade, bark and pine scent,
we’ll bear that mourning, too. So fuel your

saw, brother, and sharpen the chain. Today
becomes yesterday. Tomorrow never waits.


* * *

“Cutting Down the Anniversary Pine” was drafted during the Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge in August 2015, and was published by Quiet Letter in April 2017.


20 thoughts on “Cutting Down the Anniversary Pine

  1. What a tribute — lovely as always. And I am reminded, now, of the hickory my sisters and I once crouched beneath to gather and peel green-husked nuts till our nail beds rusted. My dad cut down the tree when I was an adult and moved out, though not on — he said the tree dropped nuts on his car. Had it ever not? My heart broke.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Trees are such powerful symbols – standing ones – lasting beyond their physical form. Yet we recall them in their “treeness”. A significant live oak tree of my childhood grew on my grandmother’s farm, and had been significant to my mother and all her siblings; gone now, and I’d be hard put to find its exact spot somewhere out beyond the barn, on the other side of the big gate … But I easily put myself on its spreading branches draped in grapevines almost the diameter of the branches, swinging, singing, back in a gone yesterday. Your poem nudged me up on the rough bark again! (Thanks!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, of course, I zero in on the swimming through water dream part of the tree poem, because that brought a flood back to me! As a child, I had recurring dreams that I could breathe underwater (I remember at least one such dream in which I was surrounded by tadpoles! Hmm…), but now that I’m middle-aged, my water dreams always entail the struggle of trying to swim laps in a pool, in which the water’s surface is as unforgiving as a sheet, and my arms are totally ineffectual…

    Liked by 1 person

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