by Casey FitzSimons
Crisp, the morning in April in Easter week
and looking up you could just about fall over
staring between the dense leaves for little
diamonds of blue sky that seemed to bulge
past their outlines. They twinkled and went out
as whole branches got tugged down and cracked
by the metal cable held tight in the winch.
You could see the cracks in the big limbs
even as they opened downward toward
the trunk like a jacket unzipping showing clean
heartwood. You could even smell the light
sinewy wood all sweet and simple despite
the head-numbing noise of the chipper and
despite the sourness of airborne bark-dust
and exhaust and the asparagus-smelling leaf-
confetti raining around the big wheels.
If you looked up and around that’s what you’d
see, and that’s what you’d smell, itching more
and more inside the neck of your sweatshirt
with your hood down making your back hot.
You wouldn’t be able to hear the limbs crack
for the overpowering noise of the chipper or
tell how fast your father’s red plaid sleeves
tossed lighter limbs into the funnel’s draft.
You could only see snatches—your sister
petting the white cat on the lawn, the firm
stance of your brother’s white sneakers on
the green-littered asphalt—only feel the bark
twist in your hand as the chipper accepted what
you offered, the zipper scrape your chin hard
as the branch snagged your hood, the small surprise
of your feet unburdened of their small weight,
letting go, suddenly leaving earth.
Casey FitzSimons is host of a reading series in the San Francisco Bay area. Her poems have appeared in print and online in Red Wheelbarrow, Midwest Quarterly, Sand Hill Review, Newport Review, Hobo Camp Review, EarthSpeak, The Prose-Poem Project, flashquake, Leveler, Astropoetica, pacificREVIEW, and others. This year, she placed first in Ina Coolbrith Circle’s “Poet’s Choice” competition and was honored in the Rita Dove Awards at Salem College and the Maggi H. Meyer 33 contest sponsored by Bay Area Poets Coalition; previously, she was a finalist in the River Styx and Writecorner Press poetry competitions. Her chapbooks include The Breeze Was Mine: Poems in Form (2013), Riding Witness (2012), and No Longer Any Need (2011). FitzSimons taught art in San Francisco for many years. Her reviews of local exhibitions frequently appeared in Artweek, and her studio drawing book, Serious Drawing, was published by Prentice Hall. She has a master’s degree in fine arts from San Jose State University.