Men in bucket trucks with whining saws
turn old trees in the village to crumbs.
While children climb the stumps, we pause
to wonder whether trees go numb
when sliced to the bone. But where do souls go?
Two mothers were cut down this summer.
One died in childbirth. Neither will know
their own sidewalks without trees' familiar
shapes above their heads. We feel branches
shake in wind, spreading the scent of blight
as phantom limbs twitch. In our memory trance
we renounce the safety of street lights,
try to hide in darkness as ghosts
of mothers weep for lost birds' nests.
Elizabeth Gaffney is a professor of English at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York. She has published poems in various journals and anthologies.