03 August 2023

Taking down the Ash



Light branches swish to the ground, sliding down
the slope of the white pine—“We won’t hurt it”
the tree crew swears.  Which tree? The pine might live,
through this, but the ash is dying.  I feel
its heart give way.  “It’s already dead” say
these surgeons—their card says surgery—and
it’s true that the ash’s crown is dead, but
leaves on the lower limbs obscure the view.
Passersby don’t know the growing danger
to them and their possessions kept below.
The emerald ash bore took residence
in its bark, and will eat the rest quickly.
Perhaps, then, this is a mercy killing.

And yet I feel the tree give in, its heart
breaking more than before.  Like my heart breaks
in stages, gets heavier over time.

Thank you, dear white ash tree.  Thank you for your
shade and beauty, for carrying unique
quiet.  Can you feel my prayer as your
trunk falls to the chain saw?  Surgeons lower
you piece by piece by piece now that they have
finished amputating your limbs.  They draw
and quarter you, still living, I believe,
sap running down to your roots.  I see you.
I sense your soul—sad, not grateful. Who wants
to die before their time?  And as you leave
a hole opens in my universe.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2023 Susan L. Chast


  1. This is so sad and so beautiful, and I love that you look at it from the tree's point of view, and feel its sad and broken heart. Beautifully written. "I feel its heart give way." So real.

  2. I feel this poem, Susan. Hard to see anyone/anything die before it’s time. This leaves me with a lump in my throat and feeling the oak’s pain. Mary


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