Where are they now, the trees of my childhood ascensions, the elbow-scrapers, the chin-grazers,
all the thin-limbed windy branches that held my skinny bones aloft, and only barely—
those nest-cradlers and eggshell tippers, fledglings on edge—and I was one of them— my self-ejection in the hormonal rush of thirteen.
The fall to earth set my brain atilt; what girl played in the woods with a bulky pad wedged between her legs?
My abandoned forest gave way to a cul-de-sac. Instead of a branch I grew a breast nub, and another.
My mother insisted on lipstick but my pale mouth desired only song sung from the highest branch of the highest maple.
Decades. My own eggs now cracked and bled. The old trees from whose limbered branches
I hung upside down surveying the canopy from downside-up—
or balanced high in dwindling treetops as I sang the evening out in a voice not yet broken—
day is done, gone the sun— they are lost now to all who never knew their windy sway,
their autumn leaf-heave, their winter osteology. Set to burning in smoke-hooded pyres. Never to know the headboard of a bed,
nor a bedside table for a book or the paper bound within. No stump remains to mark the years.
T. Clear grew up in the semi-wilds of second-growth timber (alas, now disappeared) on the outskirts of Seattle, and has made the Pacific Northwest her lifelong home. She’s a founder of Floating Bridge Press, and her work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry Northwest, The Moth, Crab Creek Review, and Atlanta Review. Her book-length manuscript, How Thinly Stitched, is in search of a publisher.
Header photo of maple tree and leaves by JarkkoManty, courtesy Pixabay.