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.
My own eggs now cracked and bled.
The old trees from whose limbered branches
I hung upside down
surveying the canopy
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.