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.