Colin Cheney

Strangler Fig

Tonight walks the rainforest of you,
and the ecologist’s English fails the imagination
between what’s beginning, just, to sleep,

and what’s waking. Some bird is

almost a 7-inch country song of carbon

repeating ‘til dawn, a turntable in the roots
with the orange-kneed tarantula. Old nightmare

cleared for palm oil, the clouds fall

through a copse of gutted, cusp legality

and the Madagascan rosewood in the neck

of my guitar. (The vinyl my father left
spinning so the folktales could re-jig

our genome; something in my bowels

either dysentery or lust—

                                              Writing in the speech
of dream does more to destroy the real

than any of this. Maybe the poem’s a strangler

fig taking years to envelop the other

at heart. When the fig is felled she’s sequestered
in your dining room table, winter suburb.
Mahogany, sapele, we’ll take it in turns
dreaming while the other’s dying until

one of us wakes, unable to breathe, or move,

until understanding you, you’re gone, or I am.
The forest dying back into myself.



 “Strangler Fig” first appeared in Connotation Press / Hoppenthaler’s Congeries, July 2013.