methow grist 2011-2014 archive


Puzzle Trees

Blindly guided to the trunk
I grip tightly like a koala bear to its mother
Sap adheres itself to my arms
I feel an ant march across my hand

The tree is old
Canyons and caverns texture its wood
I sink my fingernails into soft bark
I know now
This is a puzzle tree

I give the tree a kiss
It tastes like lemon sorrel
Tickles my tender taste buds
A puzzle piece breaks off in my hand
Nibbling, it tastes like dirt
Or a withered potato

This puzzle tree smells like smoke
I picture tongues of flame scraping the trunk

I embrace the tree again
My hand slips into a deep crevice
Shuffling over, I investigate further
Brushing my hand up and down
Sounding like popcorn atop the stove

Another puzzle tree
Sharing roots with her larger sister
Weaved together like stitches in a rug

The sister tree smells less of smoke
Spicy, minty
Her sister must have shielded her
From the flaming claws that scratched
And scorched

Bending down to pick up a pine needle
Bristly as a porcupine
My head knocks a branch
I clasp the bough
Discover one more puzzle tree
Stooped in the shadow of her sisters
The cramped tree murmurs a tale
Where squirrels scamper 
Accumulating piles of pinecones    
To prepare for long winters

My sister puzzle trees
Stand as if afraid to lose one another
Braided branches, united roots
Humble, strong
For many years to come



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