Saturday, 24 February 2018

Naught tree boys

A long hot summer's day "what shall we do?"
  "Let's chop down a tree".
We knew just where to find a fine timber
                                                                        atop a tumbrel
                                                           that we could tumble.
That would be as innocent a game as these tumbling words,
For, as yet, we had no sense of the sublime.
Down by the derelict row of four houses
at the end of Station road
were three tall poplars at the top of a wall
above a dried-up canal.
       Cross over the wooden bridge
                  over the railway
                            and we were there.
The leaves of the populars were gently tiddlywinking in the breeze,
pale yellows, greens and greys,
                                                        whispering and watching the boys below.
Not an axe but a hatchet,
to chip away through the bark and bite the wood wider and wider.
"Put a bigger cut where we want it to fall" sagacity said,
                                                                                                    and so, we did,
and we chopped
         and we chopped
                        all day long.
Getting there,
   getting there,
                          cutting here,
                            cutting there.
Rest a while,
                      and chop a while,
                      and rest some more,
all day.
A quiet low sigh,
                            a creaky cough,
a terminal wince of pain.
                     We looked at each other,
phuffed away a shiver of guilt,
and chipped a little more.
It was swaying slightly,
                            stressing the remaining wood.
Hatchet thrown aside, pallbearers palming the trunk, we pushed.
The tree creaked, and we squeaked,
                                                              as we pushed it back and forth.
Then, as it oscillated one last time, we kept the pressure up
      over it went,
                                                   floating as it fell.
Then crash!                                                           It hit the ground
and every leaf and dusty twig swarmed up into the air
and into our hair.
It's done,
              and we are done
                                             But, oh, what have you done?

You naughty, naughty, boys!

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