Sunday, May 13, 2007


They did not kill it while it slept, the chainsaw executioners. They didn't do this a month ago, when buds were a dream and reality was bare and frozen.

Two days now, the escalating whine of blade meeting the resistance of a living tree, just blooming into leaf. The sickening crack of branches as they give way. The shouts and ecstatic whoops of men enjoying the sweaty labor of destruction.

They perch precarious, stories up in the maple's branches and silently I urge them to fall. I wish them dead and then pull back the wish. Curses are dangerous. Perhaps a broken bone or a missing finger would do. Limb for a limb.

A red maple three stories high. As tall as the building I live in. How old was it?

Branch by branch, they dismember it. In a neighbourhood, I think, where beauty is not the hallmark, what we really need is another squat, treeless bungalow surrounded by nothing but patchy grass and decorated with a prefab shed.

I plug my ears with silicone stoppers. I turn the music up. But now and then, sickened and anxious, I check.

There is a hole in the landscape. Through it, I see pavement, cars, bungalows. Where there was a hallelujah of red growth, there is now sky.

Do curses fall on small patches of ground? Not long ago, at the house adjacent, there lived a big yellow dog who was chained to a shed. No one ever walked him. I never saw anyone pet him or talk to him. My landlady asked the owners to have him put down if they wouldn't care for him. The man snorted, "It's her dog and I don't live here anymore." Neighbors fed him and brought water, but many days, ( he was sick and cold as well as forgotten) he keened and mourned aloud - a sound that stabbed my heart. One day the owners sold the cursed place and I can only suppose, grudgingly paid the money to have him killed. I was thankful to think he might be dead, might be free.

Now, right next door to where the yellow dog mourned, this.

And I keep thinking, just a finger, even a fingertip...just so you know how it feels.