for an hour. The game is over; her cousins have forgotten she was even playing. She doesn’t mind. Quiet, now that the others have gone; no one is shouting Ollie, Ollie, in free. She breathes in moist earth-wood smells. The torn trunk is high enough for her to stand inside. Turn. There are holes in the stump near her shoulders—threading her hands through, she reaches into sunlight. Delight! For the first time this year, she does not feel alone. As if she smells Mom’s neck again, hears Dad whistling. Everything slows. When she pulls her hands back inside, she feels a little twinge of disappointment—she shoves them back out again. The tree’s insides adjust to her shape, support her all around. She doesn’t tire of standing. Her bare feet are almost buried in spongy loose stuff. She wiggles her toes down to a warm spot. No one has been able to soothe her like this in the face of all she has lost. The trees nearby unfurl new leaves to the sun. Her arms and fingers take on a greenish tint, and she sings to herself. There’s a creaking, crackling sound, very low, and excitement flows up through her—a warm river. Something hums. She feels she is going to grow tall. She cries a little and doesn’t understand why. When she licks the tears from her upper lip she is surprised that they are thick and sticky-sweet. Her face feels rough. I don’t want to leave. The last time her thoughts are framed in words.
—Published previously in Encore, Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
is the author of two chapbooks, tesla’s daughter (March St. Press)
and Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press), and a full-length collection
of poems, Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press).
Her work has appeared in Brilliant Corners, Harpur Palate, KYSO Flash, New Flash
Fiction Review, Rattle, Rhino, Slipstream, Smartish Pace, The Atlanta Review, The
MacGuffin, and The Notre Dame Review, among others; and has been
anthologized in several venues, including Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic
Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017), in plein air:
poems and drawings of the natural world (Poetic Licence Press), The Cento:
A Collection of Collage Poems, and The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered