In the cold winter
you pulled back the leaves
that grew from your fingers
and tapped your own neck for the syrup of its sap
In lumberjack plaid,
you frosted the air
Drove cigarette spigots into your bark
and packaged yourself pretty and plastic
for curious red-cheeked off-season tourists.
we once walked to the river
Minnesota crackled fall in the air
and you looked at me long enough
to kiss me with your eyes
You had already begun to crumble
I heard your branches creak in the night
and watched them knife up your wrists in red scars
but I was just an awestruck wanderer in your woods, and
what did I know of botany?
There was a time once,
on the bus,
when you took my hand and you told me you loved me
And I glowed like the moon and the neon passing lights combined.
Ours was the force that drove those wheels
that lit those lights
that turned the whole world.
But it’s the turning of the world that changes the seasons
and no amount of scaffolding can save a dying tree
And the day you sold me a pretty box of maple candy,
I knew it was time to start walking south.
I’m in Mexico now, but I wrote you a postcard:
I’m still wearing my Norwegian sweater
and some days, I can’t see past the freezing of my breath.
And I know you think your fall is helpless
You yelled your timber! a long time ago
and now you’re just waiting for the echoes to fade
before you can
But did you know
that tree roots crack bedrock
to grow their way through?
And when trees are thirsty,
they pull groundwater
from pores murky in the earth
and release it to thrashing thunderstorms above
And even when they are struck by lightning
their atoms never, ever, disappear.
I know this as a fact.
And I know that you –
stronger than bedrock
sharper than your knives
brighter than lightning
clearer than rain –
will find your way tilting back to the sun
And you will glow so brightly that
I will navigate by your north star light
all the way back to your side.