Three inches of rain! On the Kansas prairie,
those drowning in dust open their throats.
Listless milo, stunted corn, ragweed
and wild alfalfa stand tall. Only the Western
spruce, backyard survivor of endless high winds,
branches burned brown by waterless skies,
shows no change. Its owner, at ninety twice the age
of her tree, tough as buffalo grass, fragile
as winter wheat at harvest, jokes, “Everything is half dead
and half alive, including me.” We call for an expert.
The County Agent pokes and pinches, breaks off
brittle twigs, notes how few nodes the tree produced
for spring growth. When he delivers the news –
we could wait and see how it does through winter,
hope for revival – I’m tempted to agree. But when
my mother says, “Let’s cut it down,” I understand:
finally, something she can relieve of its suffering,
something that can come to a clear and certain end.
– Maril Crabtree
From Moving On (Pudding House Press 2010)
Maril Crabtree has lived in Kansas most of her adult life. Her poems are published in Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, Steam Ticket, Kalliope, New Works Review and others. She is Poetry Co-editor of Kansas City Voices. Her most recent chapbook is Moving On (Pudding House Press, 2010).