by Jennifer Sicking

Each year, you wage a one-man campaign
Against cedar trees. Weeds, you call them.
Ruthless, you wrap the thick chain links around
Scaly bark, ignoring needle pricks, before climbing
On your red tractor, easing the chain taut. A roaring
Engine strains the tree; it leans, leans, leans
Until a final moan and the cedar-weed releases

Its claim on the land, life sap oozing free.

Flames flicker from piles of matchstick-dry cedar-weeds
As you circle right watching lest tongues lick
Winter’s sere, brown grass setting it ablaze. Whimpering wind
Shrouds you in a smoke blanket, your stooped frame
Disappearing, a foretaste of the day that Death pulls
Your groaning roots from this red clay, your life seeping
Away, leaving a dry husk at your release.

Ash rains as tears until flames fall to memory’s glow.

Copyright 2024 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.