The Blood Tree by Diana K. Malek

Diana K. Malek | Feb 8th, 2022 | poetry | No Comments

Poem

It was already an amputated thing
The large oak, leafless for years, unfruited
Not a tree at all really, anymore, and as if it had never been, ever, anything
But the rotted stump of a demiurge’s leg
The leftover leg of a large and desperate being
That had run through the front yard one night, long ago, and struck
Its massive cloven foot too deeply, too deeply into that wormed earth
To remove it and, using its own knife, severed itself free at the calf
Leaving the chopped and ragged bone reaching for the sky

A changeling thing, a blood tree

Owls flying about it at night, picking the flesh clean
And the ragged and chopped bone of it now, oldened, and rotting, and hollow
Hollow and fragile like a bird’s bone but still struck into the ground, submerged
Into the wormed earth, an impossible relic
And so my concern wasn’t just for my husband somehow, perched
At the top of the tall, borrowed ladder, the borrowed chainsaw grinding its teeth in circles
Like a bad sleeper, my husband’s toes gripping inside his sneakers, hacking
At the last branches, the branches that creaked ominously in the wind
Threatening to fall on the porch, the car in the driveway
Somehow my concern wasn’t just for him, even though I hopped
From foot to foot and screeched oh my god be careful be careful
My concern, which grew into a panic, just an utter panic, my heart singing
An utterly shrill ululation, was for the piece of soul left lodged
In that rotted piece of bone

Because it wasn’t a tree now, leafless and unfruited, and now it couldn’t be said
To have ever been a tree, now was only and always this severed part of a whole, of
A being so large, and desperate, and I could have sworn I heard the soft voice
Of the piece of the soul over noise of the saw, or under it
The soft voice crying out its improbable story, the tall tale of its suffering
Sending the tale out into the ether
And would it blame us (as suffering things are wont to do)
Should we have seen, as the man from the tree service would later tell us
The indications of the jewel beetles inside the tree, the certain species of mushroom and the fine
Columns of wood dust, of the scarab beetles tunneling and nesting, their larvae–
Those white shrimps large as a man’s thumb–filling
The tree’s hollow bones like a living marrow, should we
Have applied the poultices? How should we have prayed? Should we have beat
Our drums? And of what animal skins should the drum tops have been stretched? On what
Alters should we have flayed those skins
From the flesh?
But there it is! Yes, I’m almost positive this time, a soft
Voice repeating such a strange, strange story, such a tall tale and
I’m really quite sure now and yes! Here it is, filling the ether with its cries
Its cries and then its question and then the silence while it awaits a reply
From the being large and desperate
Who ran through the yard one night
Such a long time ago
The question that is just one word, and whispered, and small, and sweet
Father
And yes, and there is no mistaking it now.

Poet Bio

Diana K. Malek is a teacher who lives in rural CT with her husband and dog.

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