As If It Were a Child
by KATHLEEN HELLEN
sipping wine in a cameo of shadows,
she wears the thinness of the aged tree,
the plans that have miscarried.
She’d lost eight last season. The seeds
stored cryogenically. The few trees left
injected with prophylactic.
Ailing branches lingering with sprouts, the ruddy
bark erupting measled. The crack
in the whisper of leaves.
Listening, she stares into the growing
dark, the larvae boring through
the tree that doesn’t show a thing
until it snaps,
Dirge of the woodpeckers.
Kathleen Hellen is the author of the collection Umberto’s Night, winner of the Jean Feldman Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, The Nation, North American Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, the Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Witness, and elsewhere. Recipient of the Thomas Merton poetry prize, the H.O.W. Journal poetry prize, and twice nominated for the Pushcart, she teaches in Baltimore.