Red Oak Tree

Cut a foot into a century tree and find a maggot who beat me there.
Like a shook soda, black ants pour a fountain out of another cut.
Cut the whole tree down and a twig of a limb throws off my chain.
It’s not a dogwood, but the bark has a bite. We’re both bleeding from the wrists.
I knew the risks. The tree, I’m not so sure. A white oak cherry poplar surprise.
Sourwood, sweetgum, sassafras, sick of more. Maple a muscle. Cedar I’m sore.

I burned gas, and dripped oil, and filed down metal teeth to see where that insect was.
I murdered many burglars when I tore down the house we were robbing.
And I saved a tree by killing it. Given it an eternal death in preservation
its hundred year form could not afford. I went to school with a beetle
in its larval stage and we each learned how to lap our tongues clean
through the limber heart of timber.

The infant who wrote a dissertation in his crib. I cut mine to inch and quarter floorboards.
For a house that will outlive me. But me and my classmates, we’ll forever be the only ones
who knew the sound it made when a hundred years of red oak tree smacked the ground
and made it shake.

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