the dogwood tree sheds bark by cracking an ache alongits side
but the skin remembers touch after the hand pulls away, a burn of shade glistening and glistening with birds as lilies peel open, emitting a soft mist into the breath of a southern wind, so many necks twisting with day’s contortion, many branches awakening with knowledge of the snap death of excess dew, wet, wet the poppies bend back into the sweet earth’s scent, have you forgotten musk, the waggling tongues of caterpillars unwatered, the unplucked apple tree heavy with fruit, the cherry blossom’s blood mixing with the split clementine of youth, or the orchid weeping her spine into a wound, tear-stroking her own green limbs in the absence of another’s hands, or the grass rising, clapping her pain into a verdant symphony filled with brass drums and shrill piccolos fingering the womb down into a brown blistered thing which worms will wallow in as the sun’s tambourine shakes the rings of the dogwood’s internal years into a blur unfathomable (you are breaking my heart)
do you remember when you were a child, frolicking through fields amongst the great sheep, and you were also a sheep, a whole flock, and the sky, too, your skirt billowing purity oh purity over the promiscuous peonies when they sneaked looks from underneath, they blushed and surrendered champagne, salmon, rosewood, do you remember your mother chasing after you with a large handkerchief wanting to wash your face, clothes, legs, and you holding up the lace that was brimming your ankles, gathering it to your waist, saying but mother am I not clean enough so fast dashing through the white, no stain can catch me, nothing can, not even the shepherd knows why I am running, and the green whistle of a runaway train, your mother weeping, waving her faded handkerchief as steam, all the sheep running steam, and you a billowing cloud that cannot pause to gather the mist from her because you have become a wolf, your great tail waving back goodbye
Emily Ellison is an MFA candidate at Texas State University with work in Literary Yard, After the Pause, Gordon Square Review, and Haiku Journal, among others. She lives in San Marcos, Texas with two cats and an abundance of plants.