Witness

by Marci Madary



My desk faces the back

of our third-floor condo

where I frequently gaze

over my computer screen

into the branches of all the surrounded trees.


Neighbors across the alley

took down a grand oak in their backyard.

I don’t know if it was sick

or damaged by the wind

or simply an irritant

as the homeowners are strangers to me.


But for the last three days I have watched

men and a hydraulic lift

with ropes and pulleys

cut apart the tree:

branch by branch,

limb by limb,

chunk by chunk.


I have listened

to the constant hum

of chainsaw and wood chipper,

silencing my desire to shout:

“Stop! Don’t!

Please, please don’t.”


It is quiet today

and the green giant

is no more.


I am left

with the memory

of standing witness

as cancer took you down:

cell by cell,

bone by bone.


No amount of pleading

could change

your demise either.


If a person never knew

the tree had been there,

they wouldn’t notice

its absence.


But I already miss

its presence:

its greatness among the other trees,

the magic of its leaves,

the comfort of its shade.


As I do you.

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