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When the Moon is Full, the Trees Speak in Unison

ISSUE:  Winter 2021

Here’s a lesson: If you leave a hole in the forest, 
leave a mouth open in pain, astonishment or grief, 
something will come to fill it, blood or baby teeth 
or tiny snakes, the cries of lost children, sunlight 
looking to bury itself when it’s seen too much.
We say we have seen too much, felt too much. 
We say our hands have severed and regrown 
so many times over we can’t recognize them.
Those who come here want us to love them 
as their mothers did not, but our hands shake 
like roots in an earthquake whenever we try
to hold someone, even ourselves. We say our hands 
are the crooked mushrooms in radioactive water, 
or snake heads with their mouths sewn shut.
We say our hands have no duty to beauty, that land 
where the wild go to die, where they’ve slaughtered 
all the wolves and wear their skins as coats.
They’ve slaughtered all the wolves and so
we can no longer be gentle. If you come, our answer 
will be a fist of wind that blooms behind your eye 
and opens the darkness there from which you
were born, darkness you hoped had forgotten you, 
and you will feel its touch as the forest floor
feels all the shadows of the leaves at once 
before, unable to bear the weight any longer,
it caves into a sinkhole, the way your mouth opened 
to breathe when you first entered the world,
or the way your mouth will open in your coffin 
for the insects to nest inside it. The lesson is 
we’re never empty for long, though one 
moment can destroy you, so best keep your 
tongue between your teeth if you’re going to go
looking for something else to be.


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