We bludgeoned it. Me and this kid Jeff.
(Our mothers hated each other.) We took
Big rocks and beat the trunk of a young birch
Until we could push it over. It took two days.
The inner flesh splintering, a fresh smell and
The color of smoked salmon. Not like the crumbling
White middles of the ones my father cut down
For our fire. We stood staring along the long spine
Of this birch on the ground. Jeff dropped his stone
And ran, leaving me alone with the tree.
And what was there to do now? There was no
Clean cut to count the rings and no one
To tell. I sat stroking the white peeling skin,
Collecting the branches broken in the fall.
The woods darkened, a cool cloth on my eyes.
I lay down beside it on a bed of leaves and needles
And spread the blanket of gathered branches
Over us. I lay close, so it would take me, too.