Saw, Rip, Burn

Written by Herb Lily Gerhard
Art by Pixabay

Once at the end of a street with more road than homes
There was a tree that had possums instead of leaves
It started as just a single head out of the ground
And its body turned into a log
And the rest turned into a tree
Its arms growing
Holding possums like they are
Hanging teacups
They sing little songs
That I think must of been played at proms in the 1950’s
Although I wouldn’t know
I never went to a prom in any decade
I don’t remember when they chopped the thing down the first time
the sound of it still
Eats at the chest like heartburn after an ice cream sundae
I also don’t remember when it grew back for the first time
I think it was when I got my first pair of roller skates
I tried to try them out on the street
But I stopped dead when I saw another little possum head coming from the street Over the years dozens have tried to take that thing down
They saw it rip it out and burn the thing to the ground
It never worked
I don’t think it wanted to leave
And a tiny little woman sometime in June told a group of school board blondes That the possum tree must be gone for good
It was not good for the children
They’d start singing foolish songs too
So they did what they always did
Saw, rip, burn
Still day after day none of it worked
The tree would grow back after a week or two
It would grow even wider each time
It got so wide that it started running into houses
So many possums singing that they
Were as loud as a rock concert
The little woman and
The school board blondes
Did not like this
They wanted it gone

So they enlisted scientist from all over California to find a way to get rid of it Each more eager than the next
And they tried a lot of those too
Bombs, special knives, even the might of a train
It never worked
In the meantime I visited the possum tree and gave it company
I thought that perhaps this was a very difficult time for it
So I’d tell it about my day
About school, girls I thought were cute and how my little brother always made me do the dishes I don’t know if it ever heard me
I will likely never actually know
Sometime in October a scientist with goggles and a white coat came into town He had a vial of green liquid and a dropper
The entire town watched as he dropped a single droplet onto the tree
It disappeared faster than I’ve ever seen anything disappear
We all anxiously waited the next week or so to see if it would come back And it never had
The street was now quiet
And I for one missed its sound
I remembered all of this however because
Just yesterday I walked right by where it used to be
On my way to my brother’s wedding
And I saw a possum head sprouting
From the ground
And this time even from there
It was singing a song