Autumn body is stiff like the trunks and branches.
The leaves already learning how to shiver.
By Tuesday, every tree top has decided it wants to be a redhead
and some have started to go blonde on the bottom—frosted tips soon.
Me, i have already done the bleach,
already let you run your fingers over my skull. My scar
from that winter of sledding and ice.
My crooked harvest moon, a cutting silver that feels bright against your scissors.
They sometimes call you a twig
as if you could ever crack,
but i do believe inside
you are always fresh, and green. i think i am thick and rough like a tree,
but i can’t just let these gnarled roots be. You know what i mean?
i placed the tops of acorns on your eager finger tips.
The wind was blowing, and you needed a hat more than your fingers
did. You were rushing in the trees on the east side of Harriet
when we should have been west. You were blowing
through me, waiting for my creak and lean.
My neck, a sloping bough for your sparrowed flock of fingers.
Your arms, a wingspan i can fold my limbs into.
i know it’s me who is too eager to tip.
Splinter me down the middle, my timber, your kindling.
Later in the orchard you will tell me not to throw rotting fruit.
i throw the cider sick flesh anyway as if to say,
i want it all soft like a peach, but I know you are apple season.
i dig my thumb in it’s all skin, crunch, and meal,
The sky—crisp enough to bite into.
i couldn’t tell if it was the grass or the laying
or the way you pulled at my sleeve, hooked onto me
like a daisy chain. Your dandelion mane rolling (what a day!)
But i swear when your head dipped honey dripped out.
i saw hexagonal catacombs sticking in the crevices of your ears and mouth.
You eat a chicken sandwich and i think “out of the eater i found something i could eat.”
Lil texted me that story of Samson, the hive, the lion skull, and
somewhere it is said if you
split a honey bee you can lick its sweetness clean out.
You’re still linked to my sleeve while i turn to see gold in between the leaves
of the tree i’ve been watching from my porch since i moved in September.
i am not the starling family held between its branches, but i’m held.
i want their memory that photographs
and holds this like they hold a shining thing.
Leaning is our language.
Like those two pines on the bank of St. Croix
where i camped in September.
When the wind blew, they
would bend into each other and grind.
i knew how warm the space must be where their bark met.
How tangled their branches could get.
How time has its own curve and buckle.
Like the river below the safety of their netted canopy.
i remember the one tree reaching, and reaching.
Learning to lean without toppling.
What i mean to say is you aren’t in this poem.
There is just me and all my leaves
Ghosts are better than nothing. We still want something:
spread out white and crisp across the page.
i know your ancestors’ hands before you email me the picture of your aunt.
i’ve held them like a seed in a pod. I’ve seen them rattle and shake.
i’ve hardened around you. A shell of something that still wants.
i dropped us like an empty walnut on concrete
craving the sound of hollow,
but when i kissed your forehead,
I smelled sweetgrass, smoke and
the rotting pith we forgot to plant this summer.
How many of your ancestors want me to remember their hands? And how many of mine want
you to pick squash as the moon wanes?
When i get home, the soup you made is still warm.
They tell me to pick out the bones.