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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


by Mary Dingee Fillmore

The chainsaw rips the air
of this quiet quarter where trees
are already scarce.

When the lumberman ropes
a locust tree's concentric layers,
I'm sure I've seen him before.

Asked why cut, he replies
"We're cleanin' up the land -
 it belongs to the owner."

Defeated, I walk home under
maples whose crowns
can't be seen overhead -
survivors of woods men cleared
a century ago to make the garden
I love and live by.

They cut even more in the vanishing
Vermont forest: cedar to shingle my house,
spruce to frame it, and golden pine
and birch for floors -
     yes, birch, its snowy bark peeling
      in the darkened woods -

I live in this calamity of cutting, and now
I remember the lumberman's name

It's carved on my great great great
grandfather's gravestone he's the man
whose hard-swung axe hewed out
the place we savages know
as Canada.

Mary Dingee Fillmore earned her M.F.A. at Vermont College after a twenty-five year career in organizational development and a hidden life as a writer. Her poetry about the Holocaust in the Netherlands and other subjects has appeared in Upstreet, Pearl, Diner, Westview, Main Street Rag, Pinyon and Blueline among other venues. She won the Poetry Grand Prize in the 2007 Tallgrass Writers' Guild Contest, and is a winner of the 2006 Iowa Source contest.