The chainsaw revs, wakes us to falling
limbs and pulping. Not the birch,
I pray, to what God of no
mercy, I know not. For it is the birch,
too close to the power lines, being
carved out. My son squeezes my
hand. People fear roots, I mumble—
which sounds creepy— maybe
the tree was sick, I add.
The comfort-lie, we both know— leaves
gusting down the picture-perfect block.
Joey told me entry-level jobs are being
replaced by artificial intelligence.
This shit is real, my son blurts.
(Joey: his best friend’s older brother.)
Typically, I would chastise this shit
is real. And lambast Joey.
Instead, I ruffle the top of his cherished
head. When did he start using hair
gel? My fifth-grader trying
to be tough, to take my eyes of what was
once my favorite tree, to comprehend
this irrational world. After drop-off,
I drag back home— only the trunk is left.
Goggled workers, in bright orange, feed
the silver branches to machines.
Someday, robots will do this. They will
also drive trucks cross country, scoop
ice-cream cones, walk our dogs.
The city trucks are a jolly green.
Emblazoned across their sides:
Yes, cultivation is good here.
Rebecca Irene is a graduate of Swarthmore College, and recently received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work is published, or forthcoming, in Eunoia Review, Sixfold, Amaryllis, Dime Show Review, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 fellowship from the Norton Island Artist Residency Program. A Poetry Reader for Hunger Mountain and The Maine Review, she lives in Portland, Maine, where she supports her word-addiction by waitressing.