Stay Put

By Katie Powers

August 15, 2016

Stay Put

A whistle through the trees: stay put.

He’s cutting red maples. They are small compared to the softwoods, but felled and at rest on the duff-covered floor they are immovable. He’s leaving behind the biggest, the hemlocks, for some day’s lumber. It feels good to do the work, the beginning of next year’s heat. The woods are cold and still.

Watching a tree come down makes a tightness in her chest. The efficiency of it is always shocking: a few moments of the saw at high pitch; the wedge taken from the trunk like a bite – a bright and wide open wound; him stepping away, practiced. At first there is mere waving, like a wind moving through. Then suspension, a breath not taken. The tree with nothing beneath it, moving slowly slowly and then faster faster, pushing past its neighbors in freefall to the earth. The bounce: branches limp as unconscious arms, the reverberation of a loss they barely comprehend, booming through the quiet winter. And afterward a kind of panic, like the finality of the vet’s needle in the dog’s arm. The taking stock of the remaining forest, the woods around them not enough.

The tree dismantled, its years of work finished in a matter of minutes. The man in his wool, young now, the woman not yet his wife. The frozen stream behind them, the flurry of snow and sawdust. The sun, obscured by late afternoon, falling behind the hill.

Comments (9) - Post a Comment
Beautiful. Every line.
Andrea Fisk Rotterman at 8:55am EDT - August 15, 2016
Such beautiful, rich imagery. I was right there, in the forest, watching that tree fall. Lovely.
jeanie roscher at 9:09am EDT - August 15, 2016
This moved me. The arc of emotion is palpable. The prose is gorgeous. A whole world packed into this brief essay. The needle in the dog's arm came out of nowhere and nearly knocked me over.
Cheryl Smart at 9:43am EDT - August 15, 2016
What an artful way of expressing grief and mourning and its incomprehensibility, inevitability. Took my breath away, an echo of what happened in the essay.
Joanne at 11:12am EDT - August 15, 2016
I particularly love the concluding paragraph! A beautiful piece. katherine
katherine soniat at 9:07pm EDT - August 16, 2016
I'm crying because I know you, and this is seriously as beautiful as you are.
Megan Galbraith at 4:33pm EDT - August 30, 2016
Gill! Really nice, felt like I was watching it in slow motion...I can smell the chainsaw gas!
Joe Powers at 12:45am EDT - September 7, 2016
WOW This just knocks me out.. Your amazing ability to put words to life's most sensitive emotions.
Your beauty comes through again.
Priscilla Powers at 2:44pm EDT - September 12, 2016
WOW This just knocks me out.. Your amazing ability to put words to life's most sensitive emotions.
Your beauty comes through again.
Priscilla Powers at 2:44pm EDT - September 12, 2016


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