How to Be Precious Like Nothing
          Like falling in love, you’ll just know.
          “How to Become a Werewolf” by Alarie Tennille
by Sheikha A.

Armed with an axe, they look like men
of authority; yellow coats branding

them horticulturists. Their swing
a proficient balance between casual

and careless; the blade blunt
and untamed, handle weathered

under mileage. The axe is a feature
of nothing living – no chromosome,

no breathable structure, yet a thing
of considerable damage, imminent

rigidity, unrotating agility –
Rotation. Like earth in pirouette,

the swirl of a heart in limbo,
scribbles of sound waves,

like the grey slab of the axe,
like polished theatre flooring.

The heart of the tree in cause
and effect from a clumsy blow

of the wind that is not its balm,
of its body that must fall. Pivot

on the rail of delirium and delivery,
the way those men can’t bring it down

as the tree resists like a contortionist,
like a flying acrobat against gravity.

Air is invisible – matter is a thing
subsided and contained. Nothing

is an artful state of being,
free-flowing yet regulated.

You are precious like a thing
with matter of no significance.

The tree hasn’t surrendered to the men.
Its nothingness is an axe-scraped bark

and leaves that fell like dead rain.
To know you can exist like nothing,

how will you know you are precious?
“Like falling in love, you’ll just know.”

IMAGE: Tree of Life by Josignacio (XX cent.).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have been in a state of “nothing” since I believed poetry had left me, or rather my muse, for probably a more vibrant or prettier thing on greener pastures elsewhere, and I have been utterly destitute for words, desolate even, until this line “Like falling in love, you’ll just know” in Alarie Tennille’s poem “How to Become a Werewolf” happened to me. Outside my building complex is a road that has weathered and suffered innumerable breakdowns as a result of mysterious excavating plans searching for a root cause here causing trouble elsewhere. Each time they’d break it, they’d slap some fresh tar on it after digging, probing and finding absolutely nothing, in manner of renewing it like nothing ever happened to it. This time around, curiously, they’ve been restructuring it by adding beautifying features such as lamp posts and flower baskets hanging off of their rails, growing dwarf date palms circled by orange blooms, painting beautiful images on the opposite road’s complex walls, and much more. In the process of it, they’ve torn down half-dead trees and a group of horticulturists come by everyday to enrich the soil with manure for fresh seed sprouting. They work on the stubborn remnants of torn down trees that refuse to let their roots leave the ground. How easy it is to go from being a thing to nothing. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have been Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Silver Birch Press, Abyss and Apex, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Albanian, Italian, Arabic, Polish and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. More about her published works can be found at