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The Day the Tree Fell Down by Jack LaZebnik

I said goodbye to an old house today (well, yesterday, as it is now past midnight). It was my father’s best friend’s ancestral home. I used to spend a lot of my childhood days there. It was a sad experience. Everywhere I look, everywhere I walk—everything, for the last time.

Driveway: that time when I played with dogs. We were strangers to each other and I had to introduce myself first, then wait to be acknowledged. I was a child—sometimes I forget that I am human, and that I have dominion over the land. I approached the dogs the way I approached any object I’m curious about, and want to get to know: with respect, explaining who I was, and asking if it wants some company.

Driveway: here, for the last time.

Balcony: that time when all the adults would be sharing stories, enjoying the cool evening breeze. I often run around with my sisters in the small space, my father keeping an eye out because a sharp turn to the right reveals a flight of stairs. One particular night, I wore a white dress and white shoes. I was fascinated with the spaces in between the pillars, and I tried to fit my head in there. I went home grimy, but successful.

Balcony: here, for the last time.

The bar, where I first learned what a Bloody Mary was. What whiskey was. What scotch was. The round table with the spinning top, which I thought to be the best dining table in the world. The wooden floors, honest-to-goodness wooden floors that gleam and echo the movements of your feet. The living room, once full of laughter and music. The bedrooms, that at one time reeked of sickness.

The comings and goings of sons. A daughter. Uprooting, the parents say. Flying away. The children wrote: growing up, following paths. Husband and wife dying within weeks of each other. A tragedy, the housekeeper cries. A love story, I whisper.

This house: everything, for the last time.

Goodbye, old girl.

The Day the Tree Fell Down
Jack LaZebnik

crumbling. It died of old age,
I tell you, like a man. We wept.
We had worn our time upon it, put
our arms around to touch fingertips
and we measured ourselves, our feelings
on the years. We made our calculations
pay, then. Now, the fears, age,
daily mathematics. The tree held
the green. Birds, squirrels, coons
made memory there until the day it fell.
They got out. It groaned for twenty minutes.
I tell you, it sighed as it bent,
its branches catching the dull fall,
the soft turning in wet dissolution.
The body lay exposed: a gut of grubs,
a lust of hollowness. We wept,
as I say, more than it was called for.

Comments (4)

  • George Marshall


    I’ve read all the poetry on your website – took me a few weeks. Excellent compilation. I have sent my lovely wife a poem every morning while we are apart.

    Thank you so much.

    Best, George.

  • I absolutely love how perfect you put feelings into words, and how apt the poem you’ve chosen was.

  • I found this poem is beautiful. I am a poet myself, and I find there’s a tender and authentic beauty hidden in the simple patterns of life. I will be returning to read more beauty here.

  • Trudy Piehl

    I will always think of Jack and Vesta with such warmth and peacefulness. I took care of them for a brief time and will miss them and think of them often.


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