We Hate That Tree
This is the maple we hated
even in summer, even when its leaves
filtered light, dappled
our whole yard green. Even
when soft bats flitted through it
in August, eating mosquitos we read
would give us West Nile. We hated
this maple with mattocks, hacking
through roots to dig any kind of hole.
The roots, we read,
stole water from our grass,
the kalmia nipmuck I ordered, the cornus
kousa, cercis canadensis I bought on sale.
Slender trees we loved, great shady maple
we've always hated. The neighbor's maple, planted
by his young mother fifty years ago, when Mrs. Ryan
lived in our house. Everybody hated Mrs. Ryan.
She hated the Lombardos, poured salt
water on an innocent sapling, but it flourished,
fed on spite and salt. Salt
water on a sapling: who would do such a thing?
We guess we probably would. We cheered
for the men who came in hardhats, insulated overalls,
men with ropes and chainsaws, handsaws, a chipper
on our street. We made them coffee, asked
what we could do. Men in hardhats, men
in watchcaps commemorating Superbowl XXXVI,
men laughing, getting sawdust on our roof and on the neighbors':
we love you, love your chipper, love your chainsaw,
love all your Pats and Red Sox, hate that maple. Hate that tree.
About Jill McDonough
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