This week, we present a poem from Jodie Hollander's forthcoming collection, My Dark Horses. The collection is published by Liverpool University Press under the imprint of Pavilion Poetry, and will be released in April 2017.
I wish she had been a great oak tree,
the kind that lets you climb on its back, swing
from its branches, sleep under its shade
those long summer days, and dream.
Or perhaps she could have been the kind of tree
you keep a picture of on your dresser,
showing you at seven years old, wearing
too-tight clothes, your arms wrapped
around her trunk, and you are smiling.
But this was not my mother. My mother
was always too frail to play. You could never
hold her without worrying you’d hurt her,
nor you could ever hug her without wondering
whether or not she’d hug you back.
And she always seemed to be amidst a storm,
beating down her leaves, splitting
her trunk open, and revealing the parasite
eating her insides, leaving her heart
a small crushed berry—
Before she died
she was left with only a few spare leaves,
was too weak to even go outside.
We wrapped her up in all the blankets and sweaters
we could find, but she shivered from the years
of being exposed to the cold.
In the end she declared it had been a brutal life,
that she could think of no fate worse than being
Poem reproduced with kind permissions of the author.