There is a tree in me; slim as a wrist
it branches, and leaves obscure the bark.
It is dense and rich, a fine home
for robins, finches – colours dart
between my ribs, thread golds and scarlets
around my bones, spill in and out of flight
as I breathe.
I look at you, and it winters.
Bare-boughed, skeletal crookings claw
into my throat, clatter cold,
send frosted silver spindling ache
into the smell of smoke,
the taste of snow. A wind
stiff as your spine
whimpers the buds to tightness,
coaxes sleep without dreams
of other seasons.
And it is beautiful, understand,
it is so beautiful,
a sky empty as broken glass
a sun streaking ice-light in my skin –
it is beautiful as tears are beautiful
in stories: diamantine,
with liquid at its heart
Sometimes the tree is a wound.
Sometimes it is an etching in my chest
a tidal river shaped in branches,
silted low, flooded high,
inviting in the sea –
sometimes, the tree speaks
without a mouth. Sometimes
it rustles twig-talk at your eyes,
reaching for a green, for a summer
that could have been.
Sometimes, the tree sings,
keens broken lines and lullabies,
paper-bark and thorns.
I will be a tree of salt for you –
of waves and wanting, washing clean –
and grow to the light of the moon you are,
wax and wane through briny roots
that leech the lymph from me.
I will be a tree of salt for you
because for all that I look back, and back,
I am never made a pillar,
and any step I take
will be away from you.
I will be a tree of salt for you,
and this ache I bear
will be the sky.
When the tree is quiet,