Off trail where there was no trail,
where your heart was an injured bird,
where you buried your love for
your first wife, and for her lover—
whom you almost loved because
she loved him—grateful their sex
was something that still sparked.
You’d never touched tremored ground
where big trees fell, but that night
in her cabin where she’d brought
her ranger friends for a potluck—
where the jokes didn’t include you,
or were on you. You all jumped up
from that hodgepodge of a meal
when thunder strike tore the night,
rumbled and splintered the near
woods. You rose, momentarily
united, and ran from the cabin.
You heard: That way! and all took off,
leaping bushes and dodging branches,
jumping fallen logs, racing
to be where dust was rising up
from what was down. The fallen still
creaked and coughed into the dark,
groaned like a downed elder, roots
were rock-egg-embracing snakes.
Your then wife pulled herself up
on rent tresses, stood on top
of what once stood above.
And when she reached down
she pulled—not you—but her new
lover up, and their hands held on
a smidge too long before they each
reached down for you and the others
to help mount that broken bridge.
You walked down to the crown,
got lost in the treehouse-like maze.
The branch you tight-roped out on
was riddled by woodpecker holes,
and when you stuck your finger in
an acorn shell that had already fed
the feathered or the cleverer,
you came away with a crawl of ants
that bit you red. It felt good to see
blood, good you weren’t yet dead.
David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family. His poetry website is: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-1, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-trans, and poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website. (Due date: Feb. 1st)
Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11085