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Take to Task

……She scolded me
for carving my initials in a camphor trunk,
but I couldn’t take it back, couldn’t
replace the bits of bark into the smooth
void, into the cool beauty of the inner flesh.
……I remember the feel, the contrast of the reveal,
the condensation as hot air settles
in against the A and the J like an invisible cloud,
like glass of spectacles soaked in conditioned air
exposed to a Florida midday.
……I know now
the taproot doesn’t extend deep
down below the surface
at a depth equal to the height of the tree
and now I wonder how
it shoulders the weight of the sky without falling
over exposing the shallow extent of its load-
bearing capabilities as if in those roots lie a secret,
the ability to hold the hand of my comatose mother,
show strength unending like roots, like hairs,
like fractals the strength is in breaking
a straight line, lengthening the points between A and B.
……I remember her almost black hair tamed
in a red and white handkerchief tied
at the nape of her younger neck so different
from mine.
……I remember sobriety when it was just her
not her being sober, before the world
carved its initials on her soul and claimed her
even now as death comes like a fog
and strength finds my hand as it folds
over hers like a fractal.
……I want to remember this moment, her hand, these machines, her hair, her breathing, her looking at me yesterday for the last time, her smile.
……She can’t take it back, can’t replace
dark days with tree-climbing memories,
can’t even breathe on her own;
nonetheless I scold her even now as I pray she lets go
and wish I had stayed just a little bit longer
when I could have asked her anything.


Amanda J. Forrester’s book Resurrection is forthcoming from WordTech Communications, LLC. (March 2021). She is a program administrator and adjunct faculty at more universities than seems reasonably necessary; still, she manages to pay the bills, pet the pooch, and form coherent sentences. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Azahares Spanish Language Literary Magazine, Pink Panther Magazine, SWWIM, Trailer Park Quarterly, and other anthologies and journals.

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