Heavy machines growl for days,

gulching our yard’s edges.

Screeching metal arms,

teeth-like hands,

scoop dirt into piles

taller than men.


They sever roots

of our oldest oak

to lay plastic pipes

that will soon funnel life

to everyone on our street.


A handful of earth–red, damp,

numinous–is not

the freshly tilled land

my toddler touches

on the slick screen of my phone

or the robotic voice

that spurts dirt.


I tell my children

a piece of us has been de-rooted,


One smears dirt on his belly,


The other asks,

how can someone own a tree?