Even trees kneel, bent branches
descending beneath the light. & I know
the song of a bird in a tree is a kind
of invisibility, the way I would trade
my limbs for night, the skin of my body
for the kind & colored paraphernalia
sun gives when it is setting. Once, you
ashed your body toward mine in the cold,
left pine needles trailing the sidewalk.
Once, I read a story about a hunter
who thought, before the bullet he shot
carved a passage through brain, he gave
the deer a heart attack, its life gone before
it fell. I don’t know what happened next.
He might have left it there, too scared
to touch a thing he killed with only his mere
presence, the deer not even pooling blood
by its eyes. I want to say something here.
I want to say my mother once wrote
a book for children called If Trees Could Talk.
I want to say my mother never finished &
I want to say I never read a word of it.
Where you have been with your body,
where you have entered & then left & then
gone back to return. Who you take with you
when you go & who you leave behind.
Something will come of this. I watched you
never look back at the leaves you left
to color the grain of city & I watched my mother
dry my wet baby body with her hair
just minutes after I was born. There is something
of tenderness in nature that we are
only just discovering. It aches like a tree
cracking under its weight in winter. It burns
& spits like firewood. A deer can die
the same way you or I can & you can leave me
without my permission. Mother, wherever
you are, finish the book. Teach me all the words
you left inside your mouth those nights we spent
reading late into dark. & lover, wherever
you are & wherever you have been before
I meet you, please know love is closer to tree
than flesh. We can climb it to see the world
from a high place. We can a string a rope around
its branches & swing, as bodies do in life
or death. So yes, even a tree knows something
about leaving. In winter, I write this & there is
nothing on the ground to mark what has departed
a branch. The next time you touch me, think
of this. I want to be marked before
the fall. I want to be autumn.