Greg Spalenka Divinus
You try to forgive words their push and pull. In the garden, the cherry tree has sprouted buds, each one enveloping a heartbeat. You lean against the trunk, listening to the hum under its bark, remembering what it was like to carry that same echo deep in the cavern of your body. Flutters rising to the surface of skin. Bubbles of joy. Everything was possible.
Perhaps one plus one still equals two. The tree divides and divides again and the sum of all those divisions is the tree. Are you the sum of your divisions? You and you and you. There should be six of you and yet, there’s less than one. Are you not supposed to be more when you give? Instead, you break words like glass with the palm of your hand. It doesn’t even look like a hand anymore.
It’s language that loves you the least. You envy the vocabulary of a three-year-old with its focus on the essentials. Cherries in a bowl. The closest playground. The complicated procedure of unzipping her pants. Meanwhile, lizards dart by, self-sufficient in their reptilian adroitness. Those who lost their tails seem unfairly graceful. If only you could discard as easily what has kept you in a segmented past. Even though it feeds your hunger.
Bald and hunched over, the tree leans toward the new roof. You trace the scars in its bark. It knows you, this tree, it remembers that girl who climbed up in the cradle of branches demanding to be fed. The fruit appeared every time she asked for it. And now, your foreign hand comes down empty. Except for one veined leaf, yellowing at the edges, like a letter written in a language you never learned how to read, but it makes you cry anyway.
You’re afraid of the light switch plunging the room into darkness. Clammy absence in the shape of a hand stops yours in mid-air. Nobody’s breath wafts over your face. The whispered name is rusty, a barely-there memory of loss. You ponder wearing it like temporary skin, like something you could, maybe, come home to.
Poem also published in Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, October 2018
Prompt courtesy of Poets United, where Susan asks poets to consider ‘a bundle of contradictions.’