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.
Rest a while,
and chop a while,
and rest some more,
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.
and we are done
But, oh, what have you done?
You naughty, naughty, boys!