by Thomas Davis
“Well,” Paul was saying. “I’d as soon leave the pine.
That way I’d know the thing and have it out
Where everyone could see the what of what
And not be wondering about the truth
And whether it was just a tale or dream.
If eyes can see, then brains can know.”
“Well, I don’t know,” Pike said. “That tree’s so tall. . .”
“The country’s big!” Paul said. “Tall trees are tall.
But still, I’ve never seen the like of this!
What will they say a hundred years from now?
Especially if it’s written down and made
Into some type of news that’s history past.
‘Why, what?’ they’ll say. ‘A tree so tall that skies
And moon and stars and sun and even wind
Were forced to go around its soaring tall?
Come on! We future fools are not the fools
That built our future up on tales and dreams.
We used good mortar, bricks, and long, hard thought.
You’ll not put anything of fancy here.
We know the ways of nature and of man,
And neither one’s so tall.”
“Perhaps,” Pike said.
“But then the country’s not so big that trees
Can stand in way of lumber. Let’s bring it down.
No one can hear us but the wind and sky,
And even they don’t care for trees so tall.
One day a jagged branch will catch the sun
And tear a hole of night into its side.
We’ll seal our lips and send it cut in boards.
No one will write it down. No one will know.”
Then, with a shrug and nod, they cut it down.
Note: Originally published in Poetry Out of Wisconsin