A Tree Falls
I had a tree cut down.
It had long towered over our house, at the side on which all the bedrooms are situated.
On starless winter nights, the wind would roar like a host of demons from the west, and the massive tree would move and bend and shake in the darkness. And I would lie awake and think of my children sleeping in those rooms, below the menacingly animated tree, and I knew it would have to be done.
But it was such a majestic thing, this tree.
It rose with such haughty majesty, such perfectly constructed beauty. It challenged my ever-wavering will, defied my anemic ability to plan for its end.
How many years had it been there? How many decades? Perhaps as many as I have been alive. Who then was I to choose the fate of such a splendid and aristocratic thing?
I made excuses.
It gave us shade from the burning sun. It exquisitely colored the ground with its shed leaves every fall, and with its new seed in the spring. It would require a profound effort, physical and spiritual, to take it down. Perhaps it would even be in the attempt to fell it that something would go catastrophically wrong and only then would the opportunity finally manifest for the massive body to fall into and destroy our house. How could I ever bear it if my desire to eliminate this perceived threat were to be the cause of the transformation of that threat from hypothetical to actual?
So I put it off.
Then one day, finally, inexplicably, for no apparent reason, I pushed the plan forward. I acted to achieve the tree’s demise.
The crew came and solemnly went to work. They used machines to reach into the tree’s heights, removing its crown bit by bit, the branches falling into a small forest on the lawn. Then, having thinned and shortened it, one man in the truck, armed with a chainsaw, methodically cut off huge chunks of the trunk, and others attached a chain to pull the pieces off.
They were so great in size that they left wide and deep depressions in the earth where they fell, and I could feel the impact, or so I believed, on the other side of the driveway.
It took the better part of a day for a group of three men with powerful technology to surgically bring down this titanic living thing without disturbing any of the human dwellings sitting nearby. I watched almost the entire process, standing like a penitent or an accused man awaiting judgment, breathless and awed.
It was just a tree, I told myself.
The crew took a break after they had completed the work of felling it. They drove away to another job site for a while, telling me they would return shortly to gather up the fragments of the tree’s body, pile them on a truck, and haul them away.
During their absence, I sprang into action, driven by no thing the slightest bit more rationally comprehensible than the force that had finally compelled me to call them in to cut the titan down.
I hurriedly gathered up a few of the pieces of the fallen tree that were small enough for me to carry. They were crescent-shaped wedges cut out to allow physics to do the work to bring the vast being that had dwelt in our presence for as long as we have been in this house to lie humbled on the earth, then to be disintegrated and relegated forever to a time past and never to come again.
I had no understanding as to why I was doing it. I felt charged with a duty that emanated from outside of me.
I whispered prayers as I gathered the pieces. I started to weep profusely, and I asked for forgiveness.
I stored the pieces of the trunk of this once regal living entity in the shed, promising myself, and the tree, that I would keep them as long as I live in this house.
There they lie, grave markers, remnants, wordless epitaphs, all that remains of this sacred entity that died by my order.