by Steven Hollies, USA
Any who think trees do not scream have not listened to a forest razed. Falling on a timber camp, air wrestles itself into knots of death— the crackle of bark exploding, whipsaw shriek of blades blasting centuries back to dust, man and machine growling and crawling over miles of columnar corpses— from each direction, wind arrives and curls back upon itself in despair. Tree blood napalms sky; the earth stands on its toes in agony. Stumps search from soil like the severed wrists of the damned. The cutters of this kingdom sit on them like thrones, gobbling meat and cheese as if immune to death. Their laughter is unbelievable. I ask what it would take to make them stop. “My family must eat,” says one man. “I know no other way,” a second. A third, “The pay is better to destroy.” Their awareness breaks me. Perhaps it broke them, too. They return to work, whistling and smiling like axes, hastening to a violence so precise it looks like mercy: as if each holds silently, in the deep mine of his consciousness, the grim knowledge that he is cutting down his children.