Cometh the Chainsaw

by A. M. Bell, NZ

I don’t know which is worse from this vantage point: the sound or the vision.

We are mesmerised by the sight of a Jatoba tree falling, at first slowly as its brothers try to hold it up, then accelerating towards the forest floor. But it is the sound that first alerts us. The terrible cadences of the chainsaw as its efforts are rewarded, the dying creak as the trunk is separated from its base and then the crashing as its death throes grow more desperate.

Each one that falls and is ignominiously dragged away is an arrow through our hearts.

We do not understand it. How many shelters do they need? What are those coloured leaves they exchange that seem so important to them?

They are prepared to risk the wrath of the jaguars, alligators, and anacondas to kill our trees. They do not seem to fear the deadly bite of the Coral Snake. They sweat and slap at the mosquitoes that bite them. They prise leeches from their arms and ignore the blood that drips into the leaf litter.

Every sunrise, they come out of the fading darkness riding their big, yellow tapirs and the chainsaws roar like a thousand angry jaguars and the trees fall and keep falling until dusk closes in.

And every sunset, we sit up here, fearful, as the thumping on the forest floor grows closer. “Where will we go?” asks my son as I groom his fur.

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