Oyster Boy Review 04  
  Spring 1996
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» Levee 67


The Death of Trees

Terry Spohn

This is not your neighborhood, but hers. It is her city. Those are her brittle leaves that polish the window in the middle of the night. That's her streetlight humming above the cinders. She's asleep beside you, and you listen as she leaves, sliding away into another dream. Upstairs, her children are asleep. The entire city, none of whom you know, are asleep, and you are thinking of the star maps of geese, and of all the bones lost in the earth, swimming away from one another. When her daughters awaken they will go back to playing jackstraws on the bedroom floor, the sticks held tightly in small fists, sticks so slender and smooth that when you look at them you never think of the death of trees. Drop them and they spread like ice sheen on a cold window.

She is removing herself from you, sighing with each breath in the middle of the night. Finger by finger, first one word unsaid, then the next, each strand of hair that's like the gold we carry when we're born; one ear away from the phone, one restless eye, another, the children growing, the news she doesn't remember if it's you she's told, her smile like the creek just swollen with upstream rain.