I walked briskly,
the cold air swarming around my body.
Head down, I marched to the playground,
and there it was.
A huge, empty hole in the hearty soil
where a tree once soared on the uneven earth.
I balked, studying the disappearance
of life grown for 300 years,
suddenly uprooted, gone —
the hole now seems bigger
than 90 feet of trunk and branches did.
It was just an ordinary sugar maple,
thickly wrapped into the ground,
a fixture so purposeful
it probably forgot that its roots could be dug up.
The gaping hole where it once stood
now screams at me.
It screams at me like her gaping red mouth
screamed at me after her own roots
were dug up of my body.
Part of me wants to crawl
inside that hole
“I see you, Mommy!!!” James’ voice explodes at me
from across the yard.
My brain yells at me to snap out of it, and I do.
I wave to him exaggerated, happy.
Then I gingerly step around the maple’s burial grounds
and convince myself the tree didn’t feel a thing