by Heather June Gibbons

Heather June Gibbons

Etched into each fallen leaf is a diagram of a bare tree.
Things come with their own directions. They tell us
what we are about to see will likely appear senseless.
We say we want no part in it, but no one hears us

fall in the woods. We stagger around with the sound off,
the sky a pale bruise, burst capillaries in our cheeks
recording force the way a horizontal cross-section reveals
growth rings in a tree. We are told no one was harmed

in the making-of, the shattered window mere sugar glass,
but I felt the floor quake, I saw a woman’s skin lit
like a lamp. I remember driving under a blue bridge.
Later, I will produce a histogram of the image to better

manipulate the colors. A somewhat random sample
of a hundred observations from the normal distribution
shards of ice angled on the creek breaking against each other.
We hadn’t seen anything of this magnitude before

except for the time the hounds found the wounded elk.
Blood in the snow, a red telephone and a black
telephone in the snow, then a spotted orchid.
What I am showing you is the exploded view.

Cracked bird bath in the snow. Fallen tree, monograph
by a noted dendrologist. His children, heirs to his
headaches, will remember how he squinted at the page.
In spring, his papers will thaw to the contours of bark.
By summer, they will have disintegrated.

West Branch

Last updated May 12, 2019