Counting Trees

The air is different here.
My block in Royal Oak Township on Detroit’s border has become relatively bereft of trees.
My block in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mere forty-five minute drive away, is lousy with them.
My husband Shawn cut down a healthy, old growth maple so he could better sun himself on the back deck. I still mourn the tree four years later.
I can see ten mature trees through the narrow view from the windows of my office. Littleleaf Linden, Red Sunset Maple and Emerald Green Arborvitae trees grow in our front yard. I take a census and find 115 hearty trees from my block to the main street, Packard, and back.
I want to transplant some of these trees to my old neighborhood.
I could take them at night. On a truck. Stack them five high
And they’d hardly be missed.
Why should Ann Arborites have all the shade?
Trees are the lungs of the Earth.
Trees reduce crime.
Provide jobs
Clean the air,
filter water.
Cloverdale Avenue needs all that
more than Kensington Drive does.
Cloverdale needs me
more than Kensington does.
After nearly two years away because of the pandemic, the contrast is stark.
Hardly any tree cover over the street where I grew up. Long gone are the days when my friends and I would climb the oaks that lined our street.
Insect infestations and oak wilt caused many to be cut. My childhood friend and neighbor Angie tells me that a few remaining trees were blown onto power lines in recent storms and had to be removed.
They were not replaced.
Angie says the black squirrels that she used to see only in neighboring Oak Park have replaced the brown ones that used to be so commonplace in the Township and wonders whether it’s because of the dearth of trees.
The grass is still perfectly manicured on Cloverdale.
Lawns are uniform, like the white and red brick houses, and a deep shade of green. Angie tells me that even our carpet-like lawns were patchy in 2020, the year when nothing was as it should have been.
In Royal Oak Township
Or Ann Arbor
Or anywhere else for that matter
I long to breathe easy in both places.

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About the Author

Sonya Vann DeLoach joined Detroit’s Circle writing group in 2020, where she wrote a poem, “Garden of Delight,” which was chosen over thousands to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope (June 2021). Her poetry appears in Circle's Cypher (2021) book. Sonya has written for The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Detroit Free Press, where she was a copy editor. She lives with her husband in Ann Arbor, Michigan.