Tales of other places and times weave inside my body and burst into air.
There is just the dream of an idea,
and then silver shows on the tips of my fingers.
I am a tree growing by water,
lashing storms, dancing with them.
Rains come and shimmer down my cheeks and chest.
I dry in the sun.
Flourishes blanch and curl and expand.
Sage buds fall and are nipped by the scissors of birds,
birds who know when the small song has been sung.
New sprouts are born in the empty spaces of forgotten leaflet pairs
and lend a tart style to my breath, a cool fragrance.
I sleep and I sleep and I sleep
until the days grow long and the midnight is a blue midnight,
watched over by a nearby star.
When day breaks, I break.
Slits in tender places running up and down my arms divide,
spangling me like pox.
White flowers, heavier than leaf bundles,
droop and summon wings.
My beauty dandles the fickle interests of birds
and charms the sensual hearts of pollinators.
Spiny legs—legs of soldiers,
skittering blackly everywhere in the service of royalty,
tap the throats of my first blooms.
Open flowers—white palms of hands with scented wrists,
slope into tongues that drip nectar.
King blooms light my day.
Full plates of petals want more water
than I, a mortal, may carry.
They grow faint and fade and fall.
My feet are snowcapped with sleeping ballerinas.
Some merry war it must have been to shake so many
pirouetting dainties off my boughs.
The snow turns brown for want of sap and rain.
Long arms waste.
Elegant necks fold.
Flowing skirts shrivel and are turned into earth
by a lower cast, a worker hoard
that serves no queen, but worships the belly.
Stars pass, and every night I watch them go.
The sun draws loops on heaven,
one loop and then a loop and a loop,
each stitch a fractal of the wing of a bee.
I grow drowsy beneath the mesh.
Day upon day of heavy dreaming
and night after night of lengthening watches draw.
I am roused from tedium by the color green.
It is everywhere!
I look my body over and wonder how I got so tall,
and who dressed me?
I am splendid.
Seduction drips down my fingertips
and swells from my slender stomach.
I had thought myself full
when I bore the heavy load of blossoms,
but no. Oh no.
This is aged youth.
This, my peak and shine.
In glorious patience, I hold still.
The little dimplets, from whence clusters formed, ache.
Places where the flowers clung to me shiver.
Everything thickens with sweet water.
Small and green ideas appear in my palms
and move with me as I thump the clouds and rave with wind.
Oblong impressions of thoughts
shift into bold promises.
Pale skin that used to be my body, now lent,
wrinkles as it stretches over knotted husks.
The sun and the rain litter us with gifts.
Waxwings shush air on my body and every body—
pieces of myself, and yet removed.
My strength wanes.
I cannot hold this weight and heat.
I let go my grip on all the tiny faces –
sweet cheeked, round and rich.
Beasts come and eat my children.
The seeds inside their souls, memories of me,
are carried on wing and water to new heights.
There, everywhere, I, legion,
lay curled in topsoil and leaf litter
until the second coming of the rains.
© Tricia D. Wagner
Bio: Her fiction pieces have appeared in the following literary journals: Word of Art 3D, The Write City Magazine, Escarp, Chicago Newa, Voices, and Midwest Review. She has placed four times in the last four years in the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute First Page Contest for Mainstream/Literary Fiction, and she has won the Conference essay contest. In addition to writing, she serves as the Director of Adult Education – English as a Second Language Programs at Rock Valley College, in Rockford, Illinois. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Chicago Writers Association.