Growling McCulloch in hand, my Dad felled
every maple, oak, and beech in sight. He had a vision
for his woodlot property: pristine pines, cathedral-like,
where the hermit thrush could ululate the summer away.
He lived for sultry weekend days—
he would toss his pager, fill a jerrycan,
don duck canvas and safety goggles,
heft his saw, and head into the woods.
He took such pleasure in ripping a kerf
round the largest maples, letting them die
in place, crash to the ground, returning
next year to crosshatch stumps so rain
would saturate the grid and speed the rotting.
On the coast of Maine, the natural order
is this: new hardwoods barge up through old pines
and choke them out, ancient evergreen trunks
keel and dissolve into forest floor, feeding
brasher species. So the life cycle rotates forward.
But my Dad held to none of that momentum.
His pines remained, swaying in salt breezes.
About the Author
Robbie Gamble holds an MFA from Lesley University. He has work out and forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, DISTRICT LIT, Slipstream, and Poet Lore. When not thinking about images and line breaks, he works as a nurse practitioner caring for homeless people in Boston.