The Things Trees Say

Shelburne Falls, MA

Today I forgot I need walls.
I had to park my car
and walk to the post office.
I left my agoraphobia
behind in the hot back seat,
balled up with my sweatshirts
when I grabbed my cane.

Google lied. I thought it was closer.
One more block;
one more block.
My knees parse the distance.

All around these closed rooms
I’ve shut myself into,
listening to the sound of my heartbeat,
June’s been ripening into
July. All the honey
incubates inside cell walls
and somewhere far from me,
hummingbirds appear
and disappear,
secretly draining feeders.
I have learned to accept my limitations,
polishing my thoughts to a patina
as my nerves learn to bend in right angles
around all these square walls.

I have forgotten the sounds
summer makes, and the colors
of wildflowers. The houses
are seafoam green, canary,
burnt sienna. I have forgotten
how tall gardens grow, and how fast;
sulphur and magenta cosmos
learn to tower over tangles of weeds.
The balance of design
and benign neglect:
the feral reds of poppies, alongside
raised beds where strawberries
silently photosynthesize.

I’ve forgotten the artifacts
of small town streets:
straight paths, gables; earthen
and pastel colors. Porches,
historic plaques. A rock
shaped like a humpback whale,
rearing up from a yard.
Somewhere, a neighbor
I haven’t met is beating a carpet,
another beheads day-lilies.
The scent of everything bagels
toasting in a kitchen.
Honeysuckle and linden.
Hammocks, stoops.
A small dog barks.

I have forgotten how to walk.
On sidewalks. The bad streets
assaulted me and sent me packing.
The people with all their faces.
Siren songs. Long explanations.
Beaching aground; mistakes
in calculating distance.
It was all too much.
I have forgotten
all this outside exists.

I want porches:
quiet things. Buffers.
Mountains to hold me in.
I want to listen
from a safe space
on a swing I can rock,
a neighborhood
that doesn’t talk back.
I want to hide
in the weeds and watch people.
I want a code word
to let people in,
a door with a secret knock.

It all looks so easy;
all this growing,
surviving another day.
I try not to step on anthills.
I watch a robin cross the road,
unafraid of dying.
The trees hang low and sway
in the lemon sky.
I have forgotten to listen
to the things they say.

Maybe for a day
I can pretend I’m whole again,
imagining the pops of my bones
shifting in their sockets
are just smooth stones clacking
in those glacial potholes
as the river rolls on and on.
Maybe for a day I can envision
the effort of gardens again;
the meticulous latticework
the promise of moonflowers
hangs from.

Was I even one of these people once?
There was this abundance
of abundance, and the trees
whispered things to me,
promising gifts;
and I listened.

I’m walking too far today.
Before all the crayons melt
in their box, I want to choose
each color, one by one.

I am opening a door
to let the neighbors in.
I am coloring outside my lines,
filling in these squares and angles
with all the colors
they bring.

© Psyche Marks 2017

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