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, twisted 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, goodbye. <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.