Our lane, named for a sacred place
of the Algonquin Indians, rides up
from the main road and mailboxes
through a thicket of western yellow pine.
Cones lie in the lower drive,
ungainly creatures of the woods,
though we’re only two miles
from the modish headquarters
of the future here—Tesla,
Facebook, all the latest dot coms.
Every week, it seems, our landlord is
cutting down trees, as if
in some kind of blood feud.
The eucalyptus shimmering like rain
outside our front window.
Half of the big old pine. Oak limbs.
And when I drop my guard
for no more than a moment,
another sturdy, blameless trunk.
I feel these losses keenly,
knowing by heart our family history
in the evergreen forest of the northwest,
the apple orchards of Basse-Normandie—
a clan of trees.
My father and his father
scrupulously tending their fire lookouts
on Mount Washburn
and high above the Nez Perce Forest.
Our good kupuna friend planting
papayas and mangos on the Kohala Coast.
Those elders of the tribe, those who
taught me compassion for all things.
I look out from my writing room
on the ruins of the big pine
that sheltered the clothesline;
like an intimation of distress
in the December air when I get home.
And alongside the driveway
just this week, I see, all of
the old peach trees are coming down,
while up on Deer Creek
where swaybacked gray horses
graze beside the road
above a menacing huddle of bulldozers,
I pass a sprawling oak in noble silhouette
against the darkening sky—
exactly like the tree in the green paddock
of the miniature riding school
I badly wanted as a child, but soon
lost interest in when my parents finally
bought it for me.
The coveting more urgent somehow
than the having.
There are essential lessons
everywhere still to be learned.
But how are we to learn them,
now that those who have our lives
our living in their care
are cutting down all of the trees?