When I was little, my father made me promise him that I knew
were not talking to me.
It was all right to talk to them but I must know they were not responding.
Your allegory disintegrated my skin,
truncated the chapters, changed the leaves.
Yes, of course, I yielded
and silently apologized to the Elm.
Language was then only my second language.
I always forget that
the first moment of consciousness is intimacy:
kindred spirits, falling in love, magical mystery moments.
Your version betrayed a collective concern about chance.
Hearing hearsay brought me sorrow and consolation in learning
intimacy is a foreign land where they speak language.
I knew who was taking care of me then
and later wondered if sadness brought on the Dutch Elm Disease.
Last week we had to cut down the god tree,
so we could live.
We had to assassinate Ailanthus,
and stop living in the past.
Should I have just told my father that It had approached me first?
The Tree of Heaven
is now a stump wound,
a keyhole preserved for eavesdropping.
Contributed by Leah Mayers, Chicago, IL