Mum chamber snug in the folds of scale and bract. Whittle Nugget.
Pale Seed. Pillow-cased, tucked in, and cossetted.
After this greening after summer drought and autumn needling you twirl on a
single wing one-armed and spinning onto moss beds
and bracken, coddled scruffed moistened
Little nubbin of nut meat burrowed in humus horizon, more pine than pip, flushed and acid-etched beneath a blanket of needle spatter, spread by winter and wind.
Thirsty squeak squirreled in dankness, how the rains cascade and waterfall, limb over lengthening limb, dripping to you at my root line, fresh Smudgeling, outskirt of darkened reach.
when you feel
your branch tips growing think of ice crystals splinter-spreading feather-forming a limb a finger cilia on cilia brush of sable be wind- sifter light-grubber wingtip and whistle
when your head breaches the lightline chloro- fill dark needles with nothing but sugar and seral stage transcend understory with all your epic and heroine dreams
when ring-pain stretches your stem first root-clench then harry your foment of sap springboard aloft crown into sky spruced from this mulching earth
Jill McCabe Johnson is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Revolutions We’d Hoped We’d Outgrown, and Diary of the One Swelling Sea, winner of a Nautilus Book Award, plus the nonfiction chapbook, Borderlines. She was a Deborah Tall Memorial Fellow at Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing, and the Louise Van Sickle Fellow in Poetry at the University of Nebraska, where she earned her Ph.D. in English. Jill teaches writing at Skagit Valley College, and is the founding director of Artsmith, a nonprofit to support the arts.