Treehouse Down (2020) with Recording by Sean McDermott

Hovering at the height of the telephone wires,

the man in a cherry bucket sheers a section of tall maple,

an aerial chef dispatching vertical stalks for the chipper.

The chunk of trunk falls to the sidewalk,

splintering the moment into a thousand perceived realities.


The sky-worker, one section down,

four more cuts to go before the break.

His co-worker below who feels the thud of dead wood

buzzing through his boots and grey hiking socks

all the way to his toes, soles, heels.

The startled squirrel that leaps with instinctive flair

from a truck to the trunk of an intact tree.

The papa two doors down from the amputated maple,

his baby fascinated by the moving shape

silhouetted against the morning sun

that makes the roaring beast chew the air.

A frail witness across the street

pausing in the task of sweeping her walk

to remember playing in the neighbour’s treehouse

that once rested on today’s fallen branches fifty years ago.


And in the house newly bereft of a steady shelter

a solitary woman stands sentinel,

long flowy curtains to one side,

nothing to hold back the rush of memories.

Like the day her father nailed the last plank

against the trunk, the ladder’s base

low enough for her, the youngest, to reach.

The crinkle of waxed paper that preserved sandwiches

packed for the children living out entire summer days

way up high in the branches with their comics, jacks, and fairy tales.

They would descend when the fathers returned from the munitions plant

 and the mothers called them to gather for dinner.


She turns away from the window,

wanting a reprieve from the present,

switches the kettle on, and cradles her favorite mug

against the inner curve of her shoulder.

The cabinet opens, shortbread biscuits inside.

The curtains fall back and summer subsides.

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