river birches are peeling,
the silvered sides of their leaves speak
privately in the grove. a lake’s surface
sits still, as tense as an open palm.
the cedars stand thin, broken and bare,
arms raised, twisting like antlers,
their sap traded for salt. a mockingbird
listens for a song, offers none.
it is here we find the trees
with human skin, hair weeping
from their branches. when the wind blows
tendrils sway, a black river trailing through fingers.
when we breathe, the flesh moves,
as if drawing up to listen—what can we say
that would sustain, what story could hold them?
when we speak, the flesh puckers as if afraid.
Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, Rise Up Review, Barren Magazine, The Shore and elsewhere. You can find him online at http://www.jaredbeloff.com. Follow him on twitter @read_instead.
image: “Van Sunset”: Jessica Dawn is a sometimes photographer, sometimes writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on Twitter @JuskaJames