by Annie Powell Stone

In a collection of oaks
two smooth-skinned beech trees are separated by a road.
They reach their arms out to each other and get close
enough that a young squirrel can find safe passage.

I walk to find my own direction
even though the geese never question why south.

Naked branches thistle up to the frostbitten sky
and the setting sun winks Morse code on my face:
I pass tree trunks and the golden mass
is blocked and unblocked in dot dashes.

I walk to remember
that I could not make a pine cone or grow a shell.

Behind the perfect paper of a dried leaf
I see a surgical glove woven into a bird’s nest,
a stray finger poking out, pointing at the next tree over.
The truth is I don’t like the cold

I walk in winter
to remind myself that I am leafless but not lifeless.

Image: Eerie pathways between trees by Robert Schrader via Pexels