by Jennie Cesario
I watched at a window, a twin winging each hip, as they hollowed you from the earth, careful as surgeons, a dozen work-booted men, each jumping on his own shovel. The man-in-charge, the one who’d driven by the week before and offered us the money, had a sixth-sense about margins: the reach of root systems and the profit-potential on mature Japanese maples. I remember how he studied you long before limning you wide on our lawn in two white Cs scarcely touching: the spray-painted circle of your excavation.
Afterward, once those white-tipped blades of grass met the metal-tip blades of shovels, there was no turning back, no running out onto the front porch to say, “Stop! Stop! We’ve changed our minds!” His men dug only at his gesture, paused only at his command, alert to his every precaution. He spoke to them in serviceable Spanish, to me in English. “There’s a buyer,” he said, “shopping for instant curb appeal for a new estate out in East Hampton.” Someone not in need, as we were, of fast cash for infant formula and double boxes of diapers.
I remember, still, the way they lifted you from the earth, the hulking forceps, the clods of dirt falling from your fibers like fat clots of blood, the clumpy clay trail you left all the way to the street. And I remember, too, your tall dignity, your shapely limbs when they set you on the flatbed, roots balled in burlap, boughs crisscrossed with rope, your florid buds rounded and swollen. It was early spring, and you hadn’t yet birthed your scores of seeds, each a rosy twin anchoring crepey wings, spiraling.
Afterward, the man-in-charge paid us the promised $550.
And you understood – maybe? House-poor, new mortgage, one paycheck, two babies. Didn’t that all pass between us the night before when I laid my palm on your bough, one mother to another? Those dozen men, too, they needed their day wages; as did the man-in-charge, the one who owned the truck they carted you away on. God made trees for beauty, but also for sustenance, and we were all of us a long, long way from the Garden of Eden.
Afterward, the light fell all wrong, just as I knew it would. And it still does: the shadeless walkway, the sun-drenched front porch, our dining room’s dusty corners; the south-facing front door my adult twins now come and go from: rosy seeds ripened into full-grown trees, their lengthened limbs once nourished by your hollow.
Jennie Cesario is a Christ-follower, a writer, and a teacher. Her words have appeared in the Perennial Gen, the Redbud Post, Fathom Magazine, and the Ginosko Literary Journal. Follow her writing journey at dappledthoughts.com where she muses on life and literature in the lamplight of faith, or on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.