First the boom truck offers its cup
to the sixty-foot elm, just a sip
from a cheap white plastic mug
after all those years of service
fishing for weather. Then follows
wave upon wave of the chainsaw,
a hot spray of sawdust.
But the tree makes its exit with grace,
going down slowly, one piece at a time,
hauling in the cool net of its shadow
and patiently folding it
into the boat of the clouds.
Ted Kooser is a poet and essayist and a Presidential Professor of English at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He served as the U. S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and his book Delights & Shadows won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. “Tree Removal” first appeared in Splitting an Order, Copper Canyon Press, 2014. Published here with permission.