Fagaceae Quercus Virginiana

by Marissa Glover

When someone says broken
family they mean broken
like a promise, like a bone,
like a dish. It will hurt
to think of us this way.

Instead, think of travelers
leaving one land for another
learning to speak
a broken language, tongue
halting and full of stories.

Remember the acorns
you collected by the fistfuls
in toddler paws, calling them
a-torns until your tongue
learned articulation.

Remember the big oak
on Old Pasco Road, how
its branches were split
like a wishbone
to make room for utility wires.

I won’t tell you the tree
wasn’t hurt by the blade or isn’t
pained each time it’s trimmed
into some new shape;
that it doesn’t save its wince
until dark, scream in a pitch

far beyond our human ears.
I will tell you about roots,
deep and strong enough
to weather every season.
And see how the tree still grows—
arms full of birds and squirrels,
clothed heavy in leaves and seed.

MARISSA GLOVER teaches and writes in Florida, where she is co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Marissa’s work appears in Rust + MothSWWIM Every DayOkay Donkey, and Whale Road Review, among other journals. Her debut poetry collection, Let Go of the Hands You Hold, is forthcoming from Mercer University Press in 2021. Follow Marissa on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_

Photo: “Gray Squirrel in the Live Oak” by Jim Mullhaupt