The 2River View 18.2 (Winter 2014)

Christien Gholson

Three Ash Trees behind the Cathedral

                    The way the wind curves
around one ash—full yellow—
      and the next one explodes.
                                            Fall of light: same light
that trailed the plummet to hell: Love turned
             inside out. A rusted iron spike
driven  into the middle ring of a stump. Black winged, 
      chthonic silhouette across still-green grass.
                                   And the ants, the ants, how they
 rebuild the world each night.
                  A man with a black cowboy hat
picks an abandoned white ribbon off an empty bench,
                                                                                 twirls it. 
                   Bells toll the quarter hour. 

Showing my mother photos on my laptop the day after Christmas

                                        Every time I show them to her
                    I notice the same thing: so few faces.

Trees, snails in walls, shells, patterns of lichen
                                                            on rock, rock
                    and moss, a snowman
with seaweed hair, Swansea Bay. She lights up
                                        when she sees a face. “Who is that?”

She has seen these photos before, so many times,
                                                            has forgotten. This forgetting
                                        is her shelter,
                                                    cradles her in the dark.
What was it she wanted when she started out?

                    Bare trees follow me home.

Crossing the Delaware into New Jersey, up 287
                                        to the New York state line. All the way,
                    the tantalizing pattern of bare branches.
                                        Stories, runes:
                                                            I have spent my life
                    desperately trying to read them, knowing
                                        there is no answer, acting
as if the answer is still there, just out of reach.

Christien Gholson is the author of the novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian 2011), and On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press 2006).

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