The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday and Animal Debates

By Jane Shore

It didn't weep the way a willow should.
Planted all alone in the middle of the field
by the bachelor who sold our house to us,
shoulder height when our daughter was born,
it grew eight feet a year until it blocked
the view through the first-, then the second-
story windows, its straggly canopy obstructing
our sunrise and moonrise over Max Gray Road.
I gave it the evil eye, hoping lightning
would strike it, the way a bolt had split
the butternut by the barn. And if leaf blight
or crown gall or cankers didn’t kill it, then
I'd gladly pay someone to chop it down.
My daughter said no, she loved that tree,
and my husband agreed. One wet Sunday—
husband napping, daughter at a matinee
in town—a wind shear barreled up the hill

so loud I glanced up from my mystery
the moment the willow leaned, bowed,
and fell over flat on its back, roots and all,
splayed on the ground like Gulliver.
The house shook, just once.
Later, when the sun came out, neighbors
came to gawk; they chain-sawed thicker
branches, wrapped chains around the trunk,
their backhoe ripped out pieces of stump
and root as if extracting a rotten tooth.
I'm not sorry that tree is gone. No one
ever sat under it for shade or contemplation.
Yet spring after spring it reliably leafed out.
It was always the last to lose its leaves
in fall. It should have died a decade ago
for all the grief I gave it, my dirty looks
apparently the fuel on which it thrived.
It must have done its weeping in private.
But now I can see the slope of the hill.
Did my wishful thinking cast a spell?
I was the only one on earth who saw it fall.


I am typing this while watching The Daily Show to calm myself down (!) in the wake of the Orioles loss, the Yankees win, and The Mass Debate, to borrow a favorite family joke (whose major online talking point, about which I cannot stop laughing, was not anything substantive from either candidate, but the fact that Mitt Romney threatened to kill Big Bird). In general it was not a good day for discussing the news, what with Todd Akin claiming that "terrorist" doctors perform abortions on women who aren't pregnant, and Terry Pratchett -- who for years has complained about fan fiction based on his own books -- publishing a novel based on a Dickens character, since apparently it doesn't count as "fan fiction" if you think you're as good a writer as Dickens.

My own day was unexciting in itself. I slept terribly again -- both my arms are sore, the one from the infected bee sting and the other from the flu shot -- so I couldn't get into a comfortable position, then I overslept while having a dream about touring Civil War sites with the casts of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (in my defense I had two cats using me as a heating blanket), then I went to both AC Moore and Michael's and though I was led astray by Halloween sales, I could not find the craft parts I went there to get and shall have to order them from Etsy suppliers. I did see three bunnies and four deer, in the woods, and Teddy Roosevelt did finally win a race at Nationals Park, so it was not all a loss. A few more zoo photos:

Koa peeked out of his box at the Meet a Kiwi session in the National Zoo's bird house.

The orangutans were in the process of climbing from the Great Ape House to the Think Tank via the overhead O Line.

The North American otters alternately swam and snuggled...

...though not in a great pile like the Asian small-clawed otters.

Giant panda Tian Tian enjoyed bamboo in his yard, probably unaware of the tragedy of his cub's death in the den next door.

Elephants always look like they are smiling, but this one looked particularly happy to have food.

The prairie dogs slept late. We didn't see them come out of their holes till shortly before we left the zoo.

And son John gave dad Luke a snuggle, now that they are the only two male lions at the zoo.

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