by Amanda Thurston
The magnolia tree of one childhood home saw centuries—
I felt their resonance in her low-hanging limbs,
memories branching off, fuzzing into buds,
and opening into pink and white petals that matured and fell
to join the ringlets of my curls, christened as her child;
free in her loose embrace of boughs, my thoughts would drift to my pet bird’s bones
buried beneath her trunk, entangled in burgeoning bundles of roots,
kept eternally safe in a secure caress of earth and stone.
An old crone lives a house-width away from Mother Magnolia,
a wisterian wyrd sister who would wind-whisper in a wild way
of secrets drawn to the surface like water from the other-world’s well
and divulged toxically in all other parts but her flower,
whose scent rolls in spells on the breeze to deliver dawning truths forgotten
no sooner than they had settled, too frightening for remembrance;
though years have passed since last we met, her sagacity thrills me still
in the quiet corners of my dream-edges, mystic mumblings of a wise woman.
I once met a mimosa who made me think of ghosts—
his wisping flowers performed a danse macabre mid-fall,
a spectacle of spectral forms processing to eternity.
Flickering phantoms appeared to form, faces grimly lit with smiles,
but it was only those finely-needled petals, like fiber optics,
waving in their graves and laughing about it;
I kept one pressed within my breast pocket, let it sear into my flesh:
“Tempus fugit! Memento mori!”
The ground rolls underfoot where the darkening fruits
of the black walnut tree have fallen and started to rot,
squirming with little worms inside their hulls;
I’ve seen the venues of vultures that come to rest in his arms
and feed on carrion under the shadow-shapes of his bare branches,
reddened beaks buried in the soft expanses of decaying flesh.
Autumn is waning, now—the vultures and I have smelled winter on the air—
soon he will lie dormant as I, yet another blackened husk, lie in eternal rest beside his trunk.