A dense mass of shoots growing from a single point
the natural structure of the plant changed
the deformity of a tree’s own tissue
also called hexenbesen
staghead or tuft


in the rat-rustling night
snakes shimmied down
scorched      charred      and scathed
tumbling from a blood-red moon
older than anything but the stones

          in the trampled mud      littered with chips of the trees
          cypress      yellow poplar      elm      and palmetto

falling away under the migration of stars
the snakes sharpen themselves on iron and rock
moving at the speed of heartbreak and loneliness
avoiding the soupy grass
crossing the unreliable earth
past the marsh and the trough

          branches thick or thin      gnarled or straight
          rooted in the source of all rivers

the dogs and dogwoods could not stop quivering
the doves weren’t there
the salamanders gone
we must all be resistant to disease and evil
take ginger      wear garlic      remember the subjunctive
don’t forget to shift the mood

          short-leaf pine and hemlock
          apple      palm      eucalyptus      cedar

take a far dive away
maps are allowed
maps that will tell you where to board the dreamline
how to live with ambiguity and nuance
but never how to live without trees

hear the wild melancholy wail
cleaving the wind from the sky
you will be swept clean
along the growling early dawn

          chinaberry      prickly pear      walnut pecan
          burdock and nettle      the single-leaf ash

think of the life you might have lived
had you allowed yourself to live on tree time

          the peach      the apricot      the cherry and plum
          persimmon      pomegranate      papaya and fig


Janie Braverman has an MFA in fiction from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina, and completed the selective Book Project at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her work, including excerpts from Mother of Millions, her experimental memoir manuscript, has appeared in Persimmon Tree, Medical Literary Messenger, The Baltimore Review, Poetica, and elsewhere.