I’ve Counted Wild Branches for the Dead

by Devon Balwit

(after Nicole Ross Rollender)

The November wind sneaks through a door
warped so wide

it cannot baffle the waning afternoon. Beside me,
a massy photograph

creaks its cords. I fear its crash like the rotten
willow in the yard,

more branches dropped each storm, the fence beneath
rebuilt until

the bruised boards shatter at a touch. Edgy,
I check and check,

eyes returning to the same line, his cry passing
through the world’s spine

as a shudder. I am fine by daylight. Nighttime
brings the raccoons’ nest

ripped from its high wedge, the homeless

I rise and make the floorboards keen, tip pills
from the dark

cabinet, run a second bath, breathe lavender like one

Come morning, the tree gnarls, still, the picture

to its molding, darkness once again gentled
and broken to harness.

DEVON BALWIT’S individual poems can be found here as well as in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Grist, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Sugar House Review, Carolina Quarterly, Sierra Nevada Review, Timberline Review, and more. Her most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). For more, see her website at: https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet

Photo: “Migration” by Virginia (Ginny) Sanderson