Tree Bark

This is the tree bark moment –
whether to treat it figuratively

even though cicadas did once
cling and leave their shells

as actual memory, or find it in
its many names of explaining.

I’ve been waiting days to do
this, stripping away at the ideas

to leave just the playful behind,
but now with all those words

there is a pre-meditation as
reckoning. So, I’ll spit it out:

how the phloem is comically
the sound of puns yet also the

first layer of meaning – sugary
in all aspects of what it feeds.

Then there is that further
choice, whether it is xylem or

sapwood, and I’ll go for the
latter to make it appear like

empathy rather than a science.
And already I’m done on this

construction, unwilling to go to
the cambium and its trajectory.

Rather, it is back to layers, and
in this life with their dark depths

as wraparound / enclosure; that
hard shell where as tissue it’s not

nature or art but constriction
like a dead wood sheath, harder

than looking for the signals of an
ending it won’t allow us to make.

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