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evergreen

2024

After the storms,

before the dust has even settled,

look to the trees.

Each leaf has held on by its single stem.

Boughs heavy with thousands of wings

glow greener even, as if in defiance.

As if they hadn’t just been beaten upon.


Remember the wisdom of healthy trees, how to bend enough,

not to break.


 

After the flames,

the sky showers unbiased

through the voids in my roof.

Rainfail soaks through all my collections and charred notebooks.

Decades of relics,

evidence of my own disasters, of the tumult I couldn’t outrun.

Of all that swept me under.


Remember the waterfall painting, now reduced to ash and vapor,

molecules, clay.

 


An evergreen to my willow,

you stand at the bottom of what-was-once my staircase,

and smile up at me.

Covered in soot and debris, sweat dripping from your brow,

you're the first person I trust, truly,

to be served by.

 


I kissed you there, once,

three feet from that spot.

The stage around us was still set in order,

with ease and light.

The calm before our own aftermath,

changed us.

 


I’ve never known my heart this way.

The closest was long before it was ever broken,

and long before I wandered away from the tree of life.

Before I saw how the world treats itself.

Before I knew what it was to lose life and lose hope.

 

I didn’t believe it was possible.

I thought I couldn't both eat that tree’s fruit,

and love belonging to this world.

Until I knew I could let myself belong to you.

Until honey mango dripped from my lips.

 


I was a storm, once,

a reflection of my war against me.

Now I look for the kind of love with deep roots,

that grows and sways.

That stands despite the winds, tall,

for decades.



Between bricks and wildflowers,

I see a tree sharing soil with broken bottles and alleyway creatures,

dancing with every neighbor.

The environment mutates around it, a time-lapse of seasons and disasters,

and there the tree thrives, steadfast,

in celebration of it all.



In my dream,

you grew a life without me

that ends before I see you again.

Someone who wants me for himself asks: how do you still

love him so much?

My eyes flood and my breath gets caught in my chest,

and as I wake my answer trips over itself:


Don’t you see?

We loved the same trees.

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