Pruning

These trees have driven so many friends batty,
wedged in unstable crotches, embracing
hollow, heart-rotted limbs, reaching tentatively,
maddened with indecision.
From a distance your gestures
are very lobsterlike—
waving a last embattled claw,
as if dueling some carnivorous kin
and are backed into a battle you cannot avoid.

You are disposed towards duality.
I regret what I had told you earlier.
I should have had you attacking the orchard
in a swathlike way, eliminating extremes,
rooting clean at the base the suckers growing
straight up, or down, or in, or across —
the only disarray being strewn limbs
and the slender, whippish water sprouts.

The kids could then follow you
with feigned workishness,
filling the truck they love to drive,
heaping tangled piles down below—
piles that we’ll burn on an eager Sunday,
lighting a tindered-dry Christmas trees
and lobbing gasoline bombs,
heavied with chainsaw oil,
ducking behind flannel arms.

We as talked earlier of a nebulousness
and then defined ourselves in that direction.
It was you who wanted this job,
eager to join the winter pruning.
You were attracted by my talk
of using nothingness,
of anticipating space,
and being at the point of decision —
bridging innumerable futures.

I laugh seeing you now
apoplexed by the tangible,
contorted by inexperience,
frustrated by the tangled gnarl
you are caged in.

The hardest part is always
the leaving out—
begrudging mediocrity,
leaving what should be.

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