the arborist arrived at noon
smally perspiring in drips and drops from his
forehead, summer already parching, perching like a
laughing parrot. i offered him a glass of water, which he
gulped gluttonously and would have taken
intravenously, had it been an option.
We make our way out to the yard, and even in
the shade the heat lies in wait like a
merciless unseen assassin. He has already seen the
reason i called: the graying bark, no longer rich and
earthy brown, the paper bag leaves rotting like
landfill trash, brittle branches splintering under
no weight but their own. Where years before the ground had been
littered with acorns now there are only sticks, leaves,
kindling. He shakes his head and
frowns sadly. Across the street are
oaks older and wiser, still flourishing flowering even
late into waterless summer. His gaze is
careworn when he looks at me. Unfortunately, he says,
there is nothing to be done. It cannot be saved. Suddenly i am
frowning too, missing its shade now more than ever.
Why then, i say, are those trees across the way still
so vibrant and alive? He pauses, and his response is
measured, precise, and
unfaltering. Water, he says. This tree is dying from
a tainted supply. Whatever source they are tapped into
across the street must be
His work done, he is back in his car,
onto his next job, and i retire to my living room,
welcoming the cool of air conditioning.
A week later the oak is chopped down,
rooted up, and ground into
firewood, leaving in its place
a gaping hole in my yard.
Author’s note: Thus begins a series of poems of which i just conceived last night, which simply entails writing variations on existing poetry. i cannot say how long it will be, nor how many variations i intend to make, but if it proves successful then i imagine i will write quite a few. Criticisms, as always, are warranted and appreciated.