Pruning the Trees

I delay the moment, paused, clippers in hand,

local fire marshal demands I clip lower branches

from the pine to make us safe –

fear of a spectral spark

driven by the howling Santa Ana winds.

But those lovely limbs, full of springy life

sit innocent, unaware of my murderous intent.

How often, in a brief life, do we make

such life-or-death decisions for creatures,

other than ourselves, creatures not torn

by internal conflict, creatures that simply


When we thin the radishes, the arugula,

which hopeful sprout do we wrench and toss?

To promote the other?

What of the ground squirrel that savors

my tomato? Must he go too? Is his life settled by

my hunger or arbitration?

The price of his life?

When I was a child, my brother told my mother:

“She cries when she walks outside because

she feels sorry for the grass.”

A budding Jainist in a Colorado chinook.

How does one decide ethics

of poisoning the ant to save the eggplant?

Who is the victor and who is the damned?

Is it a question of who or what serves me?

and where do I fit in,

in this war between what is desired

and who wins the spoils? 

Still paused, I watch the supple limbs, green

and proud, bounce and shake

as the breeze tickles them to life.

I fling the clippers into the tall grass

Hope I didn’t hit a cocoon or beetle,

Leap from stone to stone until

I’m safe inside. 

17 thoughts on “Pruning the Trees”

  1. Wonderful!! Something I ponder myself I miss laughing with you Thinking about a visit

    With Kindness, Janine



  2. Love it! This gives me such a sense of you, Carrie. (I’m in the midst of pruning the garden myself this month. And yes, sometimes it’s hard to cut away what’s alive…) XOXO Michelle



  3. Good job, Carrie. And don’t forget: Something is deciding those ethics about *us*, too.

    Well done giving “Are” its own line (end of second verse).


  4. Dear Carrie,    What a lovely poem! Thank you.     It brought into my weakening memory some passages written by Rosa Luxemburg when she was in prison. Imagine her pondering such things, shut behind bars, while gigantic political events raged outside!     So, I thought you might enjoy them, feel some extra bonds with this great sister of the revolution.



  5. “She cries when she walks outside because

    she feels sorry for the grass.”

    This line! Thanks for this beautiful poem, Carrie. Raising awareness, paying attention.


  6. Another great one Carrie. I’m so proud of you and admire how you’re dedicating yourself to developing your wonderful talent.N

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s