We watched from the upstairs window,
swinging ropes thick and draped
before the bark. One rope thin
and pale, others robust, red, blue.
(Later when the tree humbled
itself on the ground they were
coiled in fat malevolent heaps.)
The man made one heroic leap
from bifurcated branch, his eyes
widened as he clung with boots
to the thick trunk. My son said
he hoped the squirrels had fled.
Then he said: Let's run for our lives
if it falls the wrong way.
They hooked the ropes to pulley
and branch, and stood in a line.
There were fine wood shavings
in the air, like snow. It was cold.
They carved a sharp wedge
from the trunk. The boys leaned closer
and blackened their noses on the dirty glass.
The rope went taut, and the chainsaw whined
as he tucked into it, and it wouldn't
be long now. We all felt lurched, upended;
I know they felt it too. The little one said
that he would miss that old tree.
He would miss walking around on the roots.
We were up high, as if in the branches.
We saw the sky opening up.
We had watched the triumvirate moon
from that window, two planets spanning
the width of that trunk. Now the trunk shuddered,
and it was something like those buildings coming down
in the very moment before it went.
It shifted, and we all breathed in, and then
it went over like a hero, hollowed and burned with rot.
It hit the lawn and drove deep divots
in the grass with its canted weight, and the highest
branches slammed down just shy of the far fence.
It seemed to go over more than once. It seemed
that the deep roots sent a tremor through the old house
and something of sadness rose and fell away.