Away morning, rented villa scented
with a lazydaisy sunlight
with past living beaten pleated into the dented
floor, the weight of unknown orchid-white
blossoms slow-brushed outside
you prepare breakfast, nothing fancy
nothing elaborate that the family love
heavy duty, painstaking butter-yellow-clarity
no, just a pouring from boxes into cups
a filling up and robotic portioning of unmindful, just enough.
There’s a staunch straight eucalyptus
in the courtyard back home, and today it must go
the municipality man has given final notice
and felling grown trees is unexpected sorrow
a life lost from life without the show
of mourning or closure. Not that it served a purpose
no low branches to climb, no swings
for young children, and eucalyptus
supposedly sucks out life from other growing things
even the grass a sporadic underling
but it’s stood there, for as long as your children can recall
silver spine upright, two tone leaves’ underside
strangely pale, drizzling sunlight in small,
finicky quanta; and generous strips of bark; can’t be right
that it’s going to suddenly topple the wall.
You dimly remember the planting, many years ago
on an unremarkable spring day after newly
moving in, bare new earth, many things still raw
without the patina of age, unruly
and reckless, the sheen that came too slowly
and so it has come finally to this
a quick getaway villa with an unmindful breakfast
in its belly. Will the tree fall quite soundless
when the saw goes through at last
as you the planter can’t bear to bear witness?
Something sits terribly hushed about
the house as you drive back in
that grim gap, that raging mud-mouth
where once the slim trunk had been
commonplace suddenly turned obscene
the glass-faced windows blare
out their contents without the filigreed
darkness of leaves, the fluid flare
of shimmying limbs, shoots and roots and seed
strewn over the yard here and there.
You don’t sow and reap, no special
connection between growth and death
was in your mind. You planted a perennial
one spring, unthinking, on the blind faith
that trees are closer to the limits of eternal.
The man comes in with blunt
words, the talk is about so many clear feet
between the tree and the front
wall, the hazard to the public street
and he can’t do a thing, he really can’t.
Signals with an offhand cruelty
of vaguely overstepping allotted limits
the yard’s too small for even a stunted tree
forever forget trying to fit
hungry-rooted tall drizzly ones in it.
And so you start organising the cull
feeling just a little hard done by
who knew? that even a perennial
will stop being so once manmade rules apply
not even trees! nothing’s invincible.
The job’s done, and a quick trip out of town
to avoid the first cut of the ordeal
to grow something, and then to strike it down!
Abraham’s sacrifice made hauntingly real
and the blood still there gaping on the ground.