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Caroline Aug 13
The vague shadow of an ancient oak pulsing
Like an image through static
Through drifting fog
So thick that only the wind
Can lift it and let slip
The outlines of
Where I began.

My ancestry is incompletely buried.
The sharp rocks of drunken nights
Slice upon the roots
Disfiguring, pummeling, smashing,
Rendering mute the stories their craggy hollows could tell
Dissolving in that same fear
My grandmother must have known so well.

I don’t know how to find her,
To reconstruct a broken form
From all of these pieces,
These fallen leaves that
Drift like secrets,
Like the ones my mother
Whispered to me in the dark
When I was nine and old enough
To hold them, to hold her,
When she fell apart.

Because they took them, you know.
My mother, her sisters, her brothers,
The county clipping the roots like
Plucking flowers,
Like it was nothing at all to scatter
Children in the wind,
Like fallen leaves upon the shallows
Of some lonely pond,
Like broken branches
Overpowered by a system that
Only wanted them
Gone.

So, you see,
It wasn't just the wind that ***** the tree,
But a system that decided
Whose voice to wipe away and
What to keep.

My ancestry is incompletely buried.
Sometimes, I'm sure I can hear her sobbing,
A broken, fragile song, emerging from the earth
Just where the roots, interlocking, stop
the dirt from completely blocking
The story of a battered woman
Buried for too long.

The vague shadow of an ancient oak pulsing
Like an image through static
Through drifting fog
So thick that only the wind
Can lift it and let slip
The outlines of
Where I began.

What if I run my hands along the bark,
The broken pieces, the empty spaces,
Where her voice might be?

Grandma, speak to me.

— The End —