Witch Brooms
by Laurel Benjamin

Some of us will not make it, expire singing
the same chord with rattled tongues
but don’t worry, we’ve signed our wills
burned our love letters—

water locust
Texas walnut
chalk maple
pyramid magnolia
two wing silver bell

Rip out their lungs, the tree managers
and climate experts, then like us they cannot
breathe. Grate their fists to pink cardboard
strike a match to their hair.

Tell them to stop salting roads
whole towns of deformed buds
welting and drying off, stunted
branch tips, witch brooms.

We can make up for what is lost
like a waist cincher. Small branches hanging
don’t whittle us
black cape and pointed hat

raise us like your own children
peeling like paper
leaves greened then yellowed
arms reaching to gather sun

Previously published in Tiny Seed Literary Journal (April 2021).

PHOTO: Witch’s Brooms by Licht-aus.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Extinction is one of the topics I write about, in concert with nature metaphors overall. I read many journals about natural history and topical articles, including one that discussed the problem of salting roads in winter, in colder climates in the U.S. The only way to express the problem was in a persona poem, making the disturbance even more intimate.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Benjamin is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work forthcoming or published in Lily Poetry Review, Black Fox, Word Poppy Press, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, Trouvaille Review, One Art, Tiny Seed, California Quarterly, MacQueens Quinterly, among others. Affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers, she holds an MFA from Mills College.