The Difficulty with a Tree
Goddamn these sentiencies, roared the tree with birds shrieking in its branches.
Look out, you’ll fall on me, you bastard, screamed the woman as she hit at the tree.
The tree whisked and whisked with its leafy branches.
The woman kicked and bit screaming, kill me kill me or I’ll kill you!
Her husband seeing the commotion came running crying, what tree has lost patience?
The ax the ax, damnfool, the ax, she screamed.
Oh no, roared the tree dragging its long roots rhythmically limping like a sea lion towards her husband.
But oughtn’t we to talk about this? cried her husband.
But oughtn’t we to talk about this, mimicked his wife.
But what is this all about? he cried.
When you see me killing something you should reason that it will want to kill me back, she screamed.
But before her husband could decide what next action to perform the tree had killed both the wife and her husband.
Before the woman died she screamed, now do you see?
He said, what...? And then he died.
Russell Edson, “The Difficulty with a Tree”, in The Clam Theater © 1973 by Russell Edson and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. www.wesleyan.edu/wespress
Source: The Clam Theater (Wesleyan University Press, 1973)
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Poet Russell Edson 1935–2014
POET’S REGION U.S., New England
Poetic Terms Prose Poem