Ruth Bavetta

The Day Time Stopped

The guy in the orange shirt
climbs high in the second eucalyptus,
jabs in his spiked shoes,
loops his safety belt around the trunk,
yanks the chain saw into life.

Already, thick slices from the first tree
lie scattered on the lawn—
pale, greenish centers, then gray,
then the tan outer rings—
all the years since 1962.

The day my son was born,
the day I went back to school,
the divorce. The year I came here
with a new husband, new children,
new life, like the old,
yet not like it at all.

One ring circling my graduate degree.
Others around the children’s marriages,
births of grandchildren,
my father’s death, and finally,
the last ring, thin and tender,
barely laid down—the day my mother died.

Chunk by chunk, he saws
his way down the tree,
tossing the years onto the grass.
By afternoon the shade is gone
and I can see the sky
and in the west,
clouds piling up.

Ruth Bavetta

Ruth Bavetta’s poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, and Poetry New Zealand, among others. Poems appear in four anthologies. She has published two books, Embers on the Stairs (Moontide Press) and Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press.) Two more books, No Longer at this Address (Tebot Bach) and Flour, Water, Salt (FutureCycle Press) are forthcoming. She loves the light on November afternoons, the smell of the ocean, a warm back to curl against in bed. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.