18. Breaking the Drought

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).


One thought on “18. Breaking the Drought

  1. Okay. I’m convinced. Although I love that my volunteer walnut tree, it’s on the property line and my neighbor doesn’t like it — afraid during some winter storm it may bring his power lines down — I’m going to let it go. I just won’t be looking out of the window to watch it happen.

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