Pine Beetle Kill

Ponderosa Pine fall

Listen to the text and below the short piece is a slideshow showing the process of tree to boards.

The insects come now,
or never leave.
And all the sap in the world can’t save our old ones.

In summer, hundreds of summers ago,
we threw butterscotch-
that warm pudding fragrance
emanating from our bark
into the woods, but now
we don’t seem so wondrous or plump-full of butterscotch
when we are standing dead.

The line that kept us from falling 
has shifted to less water, less winter
no quick-hot 
renewing fires, and too many crawlers, borers, chewers
and all this sap 
cannot drown them out.
We the tallest, the greatest circumference
of this valley, we are 
taken, beetle-felled. 

Our butterscotch fades.
Our green needles have thinned to brown.
Our bark pulls away.
Skin pockmarked
round death craters
have reached our core
untangling us from this valley’s web 
and carbon releases, but slowly...

We will fall, as a duck falls.
Felled by the cutter of down.
Not by the pellet but by the saw. 
And as we fall, she holds her breath.
Watching the tipping, 
descending to three o’clock-- six o’clock--
Thud! --ground absorbs the long pole, 
branches trembling upon impact
a thousand vibrating wings
go still.
She breathes again, when the fall is
The men move in and begin de-branching,
and drag the log pole, readying it for the sawmill.

We become Ponderosa pine boards.
Shelves in the greenhouse--
shelves in the bathroom--
flooring in the outhouse--
frames for oil paintings--
wood for the farm table.

By A-Woven-Basket

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