I look out of my window today to see sky where there were trees. For two days this week, the recurring whine of a chainsaw has cut through the sounds of passing traffic and the songs of spring. Today, it is quieter, and a small group of tall trees – the tallest I could see looking south from here – are gone, leaving the view tamer, neater, emptier.
So it feels apt to post this poem from last year.
Yesterday I saw three elms,
in a secluded corner of a secluded garden,
Markers of an old hedge line
now pressed up to a fence,
beside a wall.
Many trunked, and fringed with whippy stems
of recent growth,
toothed leaves larger than I remember
from years ago
when elm was just another in a list to learn:
oak, ash, horse chestnut, sycamore,
rowan, elder, beech.
There were elms in our garden then
along the wall that marked the boundary
with a nextdoor field
(we dared to trespass once – tiptoeing between dry cowpats).
Then there is a slender memory
of men who came with chainsaws
to cut them down,
to change the shape of the horizon,
and let in more sky.
This is an old charcoal drawing of some other trees, long-dead even at the time, but holding each other up. They too are gone now, and more sun reaches the beck by which they stood.
Copyright © 2014 Fliss Watts