Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Chainsaw Eugenics

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 PoetryDISTRICT 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.