An Appointment with a Particular Tree

By KERRY JAMES EVANS

Where am I, tracing lines in the bark

of an oak, a name

I have yet to forget?

It wasn’t love, this

half-attempt, my breathing in

the dust, the fire ants

lock-stepping down

the trunk, down to the roots

below my feet, where I stand,

shaking a knife at the tree,

begging for peach schnapps

kisses, midnights

laced with the rubbery

smell of latex condoms

busted in the backseat

of my poor mother’s car.

There it isn’t.

Erased by red paint,

an X,

and where is she?

We were here.

I remember

standing here, my blue letter jacket

failing to warm her shoulders,

then I walk back

to the car

and now I’ve doubled in age.

Where did I go?

How many names

can a tree hold?

When does it

decide to let them go?

 

Kerry James Evans is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon). 

Photo by Rob de Vries

An Appointment with a Particular Tree

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