Bridge & Tunnel Books
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The Commute

"My Neighbor's Oak" by Dora Moscatello

My neighbor cut down his vibrant oak tree today, 

Or rather he hired five men to do the deed. 

It took them six hours to hack away its life, 

Climbing, cursing, cutting, yelling, joking, sawing. . . 

The one in the cherry picker took particular glee 

in rendering its elegant arms into lifeless stubs. 

Watching from my window, I lament its passing, 

Flashbacks of its verdant abundance providing respite from the hot suns 

of swiftly approaching warm climate. 

Its jubilant palette of colors each fall in gold, sienna, Van Dyke brown, russet, and carmine. 

Strong stripped black finger branches creeping over to touch even my windows 

with their rat tat tat in the wind. 

Harlequin patterns of snow and bark as winter winds blow against it 

trying to shake it loose from its decades long mooring. 

Cold water droplets hanging unsuccessfully onto the lovely branches. 

Squirrels have played there for years, screeching as they deliver it of 

meaty acorns, racing down to earth to secret away their treasure. 

How many avian friends have called it home, born families, and moved on. 

This night it is gone, no trace remains save a slight mound of sawdust 

reminiscent of the trunk yanked from its place and pulverized. 

I boldly asked my neighbor why. His reply: too many leaves. 

Fifty years or so I have stood proud and straight 

in this lackluster yard, 

The only real and live entity 

among garden gnomes and wire and brick borders. 

Sharing my cool shade 

Harboring squirrel families 

Nestling countless birds in my obscure crannies 

Throwing down meaty acorns to hoard in winter’s 

dearth of sustenance. 

Sheltering a myriad throng of insects and living beings. 

Tunneling underground with my countless roots to hold 

This lonely yard in place. 

Flirting shamelessly with my kaleidoscope of golds and reds 

and browns in fall. 

Braving the brunt of harsh winds as they dart toward the house in 

the dead of winter. 

Roots sense the ground trembling as the ominous truck and chipper arrive. 

Ropes thrown up and around my long strong arms. 

Shouting, yelling, cursing, laughing all the while as men cut away my strength. 

My particular hatred for the one in the cherry picker as he slices with glee 

at my lovely branches. 

Hours pass and then it is done. I am done. 

What gave you the right to end my existence? Am I not a plant 

creature put on the earth by the Universe? 

I am a spirit of long ago 

and futures to come. 

You cannot own me. 

Not ever. 

Do not be disquieted. 

My seed has spread to far places, and I will persist. 

Although originally from Appalachia, DORA MOSCATELLO currently enjoys living in Swisshelm Park and has lived in Pittsburgh for decades. She spent her professional career serving in the scientific publishing industry, after earning her Master’s degree in Literary Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. In undergraduate studies, she concentrated on Spanish and Ancient Greek. Her poetic heroes, from whom she has taken inspiration and influence, are Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edna St.Vincent Millay, and Robert Browning. Dora has been a life-long poet and artist, expressing the beauty of life as she sees it through her works.

Heather McAdams