On trimming

Trimming Trees

by Diane Payne

Fledgings and nestlings started surfacing on the lawns soon after the tree cutters cleared the electrical lines, and mother birds squawked encouraging, yet futile words, like: I’m watching you, I’ll bring you a worm, Don’t worry, you’re a big bird now, and the trimmers not only uprooted nesting birds, but they left trees looking lopsided and scarred, and neighbors stepped outside and said, “Glad I didn’t have to pay for this; I get so tired of all these damn trees, wish they would’ve cut them all the way down,” and others looked at the branches piled in the front lawn, awaiting the wood chipper crew, and said, “I never realized my neighbor had that huge metal shed in the yard; that’s a bright white; guess I’ll get used to it—one day,” and when Hector watched a neighbor’s cat swat at a baby bird, he said, “Damn, it’s like ‘Nam all over again.”


Diane Payne is the author of Burning Tulips (Red Hen Press) and has been published in hundreds of literary journals, most recently Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House Quarterly and Cheat River Review. She is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas-Monticello. “Trimming Trees” was published in Whiskey Island Review, Spring 2016

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