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Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart

From: The Missouri Review
Volume 36, Number 3, 2013
p. 75 | 10.1353/mis.2013.0078

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Because this summer the seventy-year-old pines
the original residents planted
have started falling on the neighborhood’s houses,
splitting some as easily as cardboard boxes,
many mornings have begun like this one,
with a man climbing to the top branches,
a chainsaw dangling from a rope around his waist.

Today, it’s our tree, one of the tallest for miles,
anchored to the drought-crumbled soil
by rotting roots. There’s something artistic,
almost, about the way he dismembers
the very thing that holds him up,
the shorn branches more sinking than falling
as workers on the ground lower them by rope.
A hard-to-place sadness, too, in watching
as the trunk flails with each loss like an animal
trying to reach some unreachable pain.
Think a lanced bull. Think…No, there are things
that aren’t like other things. And this is one.

All morning I’ve watched as these men,
whose language I don’t understand, slowly dismantle
the risks necessity gives them. Soon,
they’ll haul away all evidence of their work,
save for the huge stump ground to a blond dust
and a couple of abstractions: absence
and the feeling of safety when the wind picks up
and the rain weakens the soil, the once-hard ground.

James Davis May  

James Davis May’s poems have appeared in Five Points, Green Mountains Review, New England Review, the New Republic, Pleiades, Tampa Review and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Inprint and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. In 2013 he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review. The former editor of New South, he lives in Young Harris, Georgia.

Copyright © 2013 The Curators of the University of Missouri
Project MUSE® - View Citation
James Davis May. "A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar." The Missouri Review 36.3 (2013): 71-79. Project MUSE. Web. 22 Jul. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
May, J. D.(2013). A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar. The Missouri Review 36(3), 71-79. University of Missouri. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
James Davis May. "A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar." The Missouri Review 36, no. 3 (2013): 71-79. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 22, 2014).
TY - JOUR
T1 - A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar
A1 - May, James Davis
JF - The Missouri Review
VL - 36
IS - 3
SP - 71
EP - 79
PY - 2013
PB - University of Missouri
SN - 1548-9930
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/missouri_review/v036/36.3.davis-may.html
N1 - Volume 36, Number 3, 2013
ER -

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