Paso Robles: Oak Tree

Thirty feet out our front door
was an enormous Oak
well, for me it was enormous:
three stories high and
it would have taken 
four or five kids to reach around it.

It housed screech owls
whose babies drove everyone nuts
and whom my father 
ordered the grounds crew
to try to drown out with hoses
several summers running.

Then someone advised him
the Oak was rotten
and if it wasn’t taken down
it would fall down
and hurt somebody.

Men worked at it all day,
dropping parts of limbs
the thumps of which
we could feel through our bare feet.
It was exciting, actually, until we realized 
our tree was no more than a bare two-story trunk.

Now we wished they could stop
or put it back somehow
but they told us to get back.

After sawing here and there
they put chains around the top
and tried to pull it down precisely
(between the corners of two backyard fences
few feet to spare on either side).

The trunk groaned and whined
and gave us one last victory to cheer:
suddenly snapping upright 
it tore the bumper from their pickup
and flung it fifty feet across the street.

They swore and hooked up more chains
(to the axle this time)
and after long, piercing, agonizing screams
(from the tree
were awestruck)
everything but the three-foot stump
just where they wanted it.

From then on
the hollowed stump was full of geraniums
which never made a peep