Katherine E Young

Issue #
October 3, 2017

Evening Storm, Ballston

All last night the sirens shrieked –

fire trucks skittered like waterbugs,

their plastic eyelids conning streets

gorged and rivered by the storm.

Daylight reveals buds, limbs, entire

trees shattered where they stand; already

chainsaws roll their metallic r’s.

In my neighbor’s yard, a fresh-cut stump,

the raw wood cool, wet, smooth to the touch.

Twenty-six rings: twenty-six years

of xylem and phloem ferrying food

and water for the care and feeding

of this one tree. It might have stood

for years to come, shading this house,

shading the houses that follow

this one, all the houses and the tree

itself pretending that the shading

of houses is the purpose set out

for a tree. Surely there’s some purpose

for everything; surely what we

do here has meaning. Why else would we

have crept last night from our hiding places

to flit along streets littered with

downed trees and power lines, strange

nocturnal insects marking the darkened

blocks with the scent of our headlights?

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