The Ghost Forest (Jared Beloff)

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 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