The Sapling Girl
How young was I then? Five, or six, or seven?
I remember the trees bustling about the house,
ripping up carpet as their roots smacked
down on tile and mortar. Their leaves
stunk of Marlboros and The Grateful Dead.
They sewed band patches to their broken bark,
their stitches as precise as their stagger.
I do not remember which was the last tree to leave,
only that I could never scrub the floors clean
of their Jim Beam and sticky sap. Aqua Net
clung to the mirrors and my girl-hands smeared
the aerosol against the counters until I was sure
the only fingerprints left were mine.
How young was I then? Seven, or eight, or nine?
The earth had sunk where they left.
My feet had calloused with the splinters and
acorns, but now there was only dirt to tread.
My toes hid in the ground and found friends
in earthworms and ants. They climbed my ankles
and waited with me. Waited, and waited.
When the Autumn leaves sank their bodies
against my door, I thought you'd return to rest
your dying limbs back ho