Pimp-Daddy, Blow Me, and D-Z 4-ever
are the only legible phrases. Other
cut-marks on the squat trunk are hieroglyphs:
dark bands of hearts, snowflakes, arrowtips.
To be pocked like this. To stand in a corner
with shallow roots, one deep tap; to take
the terror-etchings, the fleeting love-wounds
onto skin and hold them out for someone
to see the blurred, healing edges and faint
unknowable letters. Despite the knife,
despite withering, to push an annual
dying farther, faster, and let anyone
trace a finger over marks we make.
“American Beech” first appeared in Prairie Schooner.