Arboricide Song

A man with an axe called to his accomplices
from beneath the flow of night’s dark tap;
a bird screamed, a lyrebird. It flew into a tree,
up to where the gang of vandals couldn’t see,
and so they lit their torches and shoved fire
into air. Bird, fled. Gum tree, axed. Gas can,
smashed—spilling its clear fury. This is where
irony comes in: The way breaking dawn shone
on smoldering stumps all the way to blue sea.
Beside which charred bones of koalas and bush-
babies lay. Poisons, now present in soil, ran off
into waterways that seemed to hide everything.
Poor beasts and trees. They didn’t know how much
we cannot see. Nor did they know that the lyrebird
would go on screaming, just for them, long after
the developers had lost their vision. You see,
Lyrebirds are nature’s masters of mimicry, able
to imitate almost anything—including chainsaws
and human language. Possibly, a song of such lament
served to alert the locals. Let the record show that
someone among them must have seen something.
Let the record show what the lyrebird knows—
some views are beyond a blind man’s possessing.

About the Poem

I wrote “Arboricide Song” after reading a devastating report in The Guardian last week about the mass killing of more than 260 trees in a protected reserve outside Sydney. Some trees were nearly 100 years old; all were beloved Australian natives. I grew up in San Diego near a large city park where I spent much of my childhood daydreaming beneath magisterial bay figs and Australian gum trees. These were similar species to the ones allegedly destroyed by developers last week in a bid to clear the view.

About the Author

Michele Karas is a New York-based poet and writer working in big media. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tab Journal, Rogue Agent, Mid-American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Thrush, and elsewhere. A Community of Writers alumna, Michele holds an MFA from The City University of New York and lives happily in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley. IG: @Small_Peace 

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