Embrace by Janie StapletonPoecology
Issue 5

Laura-Gray Street

Marcescence

Disturbed flight patterns map the tree’s fresh
absence. You likewise trace perimeters of loss:
beech tree, father. Structures

embedded, taken for granted. Diseased,
toppled, mottled with lichen still
inscrutably thriving.

You knew your house was home
because of the beech tree.

The tree taught you birds, the green water
of sunlight, how to curl thin as parchment, hang
on through winter—

In 1890, bilge water carries the scale insect
to Nova Scotia, infestation spreading
down the coast and inland, now as far south

as this. The crawler bores in for sap, tunnels
a trench that peels back, baring sweet cambium

to airborne spores and rot. You read this
in a book. You read the tree’s smooth bark
invites its own destruction. —When

letter blocks carved from beech strips
imprint what he’s wrapped them in,
Gutenberg makes history, book

from bōk and bech. Beech bark—

so thin, delicate, like the skin tight
over your skull and the teeming
inside it—scars easily.

The lure to carve names, dates,
anything notable, knowing the marks
enlarge over time as tissue

swells and the bark never heals—

You run your hands over the massive
fallen trunk, find a branch the same
circumference as your father’s

forearm whittled to bone, cling to that
cool absence of all exhaustion.
It was time to let go. Time

for the tree to come down.

You want to inscribe the moment,
bore into that smooth skin,
and leave your mark. Make

a home with the lichen—you
crawler with tubular stylet—

flightless cicada husk—
turkey tail fungus—
mycorrhizal

scrawl—

Felled Beech Speaks of the Above from the Ravine

No fragiles lodged as gold noise, no scumbles
flung chasing astride. Instead, the sluice of tongues

soaking every possible seam. Paste of clot. Yellow
browned to gray rot, alas, now green is a great distance.

Today thrown off by sudden wheres, each flies through
fast, irregular, stringing bridge lines. Clear calls for

drilling, scouts, chatter, legislation. These findings must
revise as way station. Some in lower spans are even

solving division, other disciplines. Two seesaw up, down,
three times vertical flight, squandering airs far better, then

again as never before. Loss cannot bear. Yesterday, well,
they sang of it. Now as flight houses the area, alongside

others logging for errors, which knows which as icon,
which as victim? See how the singer is always covered?

But to connect the waste to the question, do not disclose
dependents. Keep them tiny, hidden. Balance filaments

and flowers. Hoard scars. Remember how the first word
is unfurl. Harbor fugitive belief at the core and it will

open in all directions, all ways inscribable. In the gap
between presence and absence, insert a habit of birds.