There is a very slight man outside my 5th-floor window cutting down the dead tree that has spread it branches over my balcony for the last year. He’s standing in the tree. He’s got three bungee cords attached to different places and joints. The green one and the orange one tie him to the tree, so if he steps onto a rotten branch, they will catch him in his fall to the concrete below—he’s equipped like a mountain climber.
Or maybe not, he’s got spurs on his boots to attach him to the crotches where he can lean back and survey what’s left to cut. But he’s out on a lot of limbs; right now he’s roped to the highest vertical branch on the truncated tree, but it’s dead, too. And these limbs he’s cutting are clanging on the balcony’s metal railing as they fall.
The third cord is the florescent green one he lassoes large and distant branches with, he’s careful enough to make at least a couple of attempts before he ties the knot. Then he’s got to rope those things twice over, once to what will fall and again to what will remain, and the visual configuration of it is confusing, partly because he’s got himself double-roped to what’s supposed to be left standing, for now anyway.
But he knows what he’s doing. Nothing hits the ground unless he’s cutting little pieces off of unruly branches, or pushing wide trunks into the back yard of an abandoned building on 124th. There are four guys down below, one holding the florescent green cord to ease these huge weights to earth, the three others to haul this dead wood away as quickly as they can. They got a lot of work to do. The concrete garden where all this weight has fallen, fast or slow, extends from one of the first-floor circuses that has three bedrooms. My guess is that the owner will be able to motivate the guys from Bartlett Tree Service.
The sound of this spectacle, however, is not worth the violent words it requires. It’s as if a gigantic bumblebee had decided that your building—no, your apartment—was the flower it needed to pollinate, regardless of any apertures that would allow this unnaturally aggressive gesture at 5 stories. So you close the doors to the balcony as if this insect will go away.
And sure enough, it does. Nah, it’s the lunch break. Mine, too.