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“Tree Removal” by Ted Kooser

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.