In the forest, golden light falls on pocked wood, speckled branches and damp moss.
How bodies are like that too: stretched by pain, inked and marred by indelible scars.
* * *
That tree in the town where she used to live,
not far from a ruined castle, and the moat
mouthing abandoned shopping trolleys.
How she stood under the sycamore,
seedy bungalows grown up around it.
How she lived in the century-old tree
and knew the wind blow through her.
The shivering of three-fingered leaves
like a hundred jangling pains.
The growing began with the first rape:
that hurt peculiar to violation by a lover;
the particular knowledge employed
for pain or pleasure. She grasped herself
hardening: a woman in thin, smooth bark.
Wound in sopped sheets, she closed again
so nothing would enter, not ever.
* * *
He is behind her now. He bites,
snatches away. He embraces her face
and fists. The incline of her dress fluttering,
blown back; branches pressed by his hands.
She thinks of the others: Syrinx – the reed-woman,
transformed into a mournful sound;
Pitys turned to pine, rocked by the North Wind;
and Daphne who was at least a sweet laurel.
We are all who have pleased too well.
“Don’t hurt me.” The bark of a prayer.
He almost has her. Now he’s sure that she’s caught.
The gale blows through her face, her tumbling hair.
Shadows of will trip in the breeze. Nothing to be held but a hand of leaves.
* * *
How trees are like that: stretched by pain, inked and marred by indelible scars.
On a lover’s bed or deserted street, she remains a woman in smooth, thin bark.