The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday and Farewell Tree

How to Uproot a Tree
By Jennifer K. Sweeney

Stupidity helps.
Naiveté that your hands will undo
what does perfectly without you.
My husband and I made the decision
not to stop until the task was done,
the small anemic tree made room
for something prettier.
We’d pulled before, pale hand over wide hand,
a marriage of pulling toward us what we wanted,
pushing away what we did not.
We had a shovel which was mostly for show.
It was mostly our fingers tunneling the dirt
toward a tangle of false beginnings.
The roots were branched and bearded,
some had spurs
and one of them was wholly reptilian.
They had been where we had not
and held a knit gravity
that was not in their will to let go.
We bent the trunk to the ground and sat on it,
twisted from all angles.
How like ropes it was,
the sickly thing asserting its will
only now at the end,
blind but beyond
the idea of leaving the earth.


I spent several hours on Wednesday watching a tree removal service cut down the tree that has grown outside our neighbor's house since before we moved in 18 years ago -- it's some variety of cherry tree that has gorgeous pink flowers in spring but drops berries all summer, and apparently several of the other neighbors complained about the berries landing on their cars, porches, etc. The tree overhung our yard -- anyone who has visited me has seen its branches over my porch in spring and winter. Daniel and I watched them chop it down and shred it to mulch.


When Adam got home from school, I took him to get his bike tire fixed, though it turned out the wheel was bent and the brakes needed tuning, so we left the bike at the shop and went to Starbucks where Daniel bought me hot chocolate. Then we went to the Sports Authority so Adam could get some free weights -- we contemplated RGIII shirts but official NFL merchandise is so expensive as to be ridiculous. Evening TV included Terrapins basketball, which started well and ended terribly, and Nashville, which did the opposite. And that's the news!

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