The Ash Borer
by Debi Swim
Insidiously, silently, they worked in darkness
Burrowing, eating, until there was no hope
Still it took a long time until the damage
revealed itself in bare limbs and stripped bark
twigs and branches scattered on the ground
at the whim of every passing breath of wind.
The tree was felled, cut into logs, loaded into
the back of a pick-up for fire wood this winter
and so in the dying it fed and in death warmed.
So life goes on. And should I curse the ash-borer
for doing what comes naturally? I pretend that
before the first bite a prayer was offered asking
the gods’ forgiveness for taking the tree’s life.
And I thank the tree for its sacrifice of warmth
a provision of God’s forethought.
Is this maybe just to curb the queasiness
at our survival at another’s expense? And yet
it seems right in the end to be aware that
life is life and never take it for granted.
There is a hole, a void where the ash tree stood
and generations of birds, squirrels, will never
know the safety of its arms. I’ll never feel again
the comfort of its shade or the pleasure of
watching its swaying leaves in the breeze.
And its roots remain embedded in the soil
and the stump rises like a headstone. Here
stood a living thing. Be thankful.
Process notes: Our Ash tree was cut down this past weekend. It stood close to the road and could have been a danger to passing cars. It was here before we build our house 36 years ago and so its death is like that of an old friend. How can an inanimate thing seem alive, have a personality and induce feelings of wonder and emotion in me? I don’t know, but it did.
Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 312.
Debi Swim is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.