Only the Trees

by Marina Berlin · from issue 2

A storm blew down
the tree your bones
nourished, through the
roots. They cleaned
you from the dirt and
tore you away from
where I left you, lying
peaceful, reborn an
older creature, my
heart with you, a
piece of tissue and
blood, keeping you

(You and I met on the
edges of a teacup, fragile
and empty. Like two
wolves yearning to be
human again. Breath
is a luxury for some, like
diamonds. You don’t
miss it until the water
rises and you realize
you’re the only one
still alive.)

Nothing about us is
sacred, or heavenly,
you told me, the third
time you died and I
watched your eyes
flutter, your wings
spasm, your fingers
stutter, as the world got
darker, the sun mourning
you with me, unable
to rise.

Every time you asked
for the noose, or the
rope, or the knife, or
my hands on your
throat, I remembered
your other lover, whose
body was yours, like
mine is, with scars
for each piece he
gave up to keep you
tethered and lucid
and here.

(You should know,
he and I picked your
tree together. This
time, I wanted your
bones to prop up
a rose garden, but
he wanted a cactus
patch. We settled
on less beauty, less
pain, something more
solid, mundane and
ordinary, like the
sort of person you
always aspired
to be.)

Watching the news, as
they dig out what’s left
of you, I can’t help but
think that only the trees
truly know how much
we did for this world,
you and me and your
lover. How much air we
pushed out of our
lungs every minute,
hour by hour, year by
year, no matter the
hardship, until finally
finally, finally, you’d
decided we’d given