I ran away 
to North Carolina 
after my father died, 

rented an apartment and 
wore these black boots, 
dyed my pretty pink hair
back to brown, and
got a job at a pet store
during the recession.

I was enchanted by the fireplace
that would warm me and my guy
in the bare-limbed winters and 
it was by a battleground we
walked with our dog
forested with trees 
and unmarked graves.

I would leave often on my own
The Violent Femmes playing 
on my headphones
something about 
wanting to be sedated, 

and I found this massive, 
gnarled tree
apart from the rest, 
and strong,

I named her, Magdalena.
Many days 
I’d go walking on my own 
to sit against the rough bark 
resting a palm or my cheek
and music in my ears
to look like I wasn’t just
sitting with an old tree/
always I would say, 

<As a child, I once licked 
the sap of a pine
and my tongue went numb/ 
I did it because I wondered 
if it tasted like maple syrup>

but more to the point
I would chase the falling leaves
from shaky stems too weak
up above I could not see 
but I would try to catch them
sometimes jumping 
so I wouldn’t miss, 
to hold the barely-there weight 

like a baby bird how
it was silent 
the fall    how it 
was innocent.

I started to do it again
once in awhile
awkwardly and maybe
a bit defiant/ I 
put them in a box 
with a picture of me 
near the Natural Bridge
in Virginia
I had given my dad, 
my pink hair 
peaking beneath
an old beanie, 
the snowy world
looking like a ghost 
beside me.


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