iron tyrants scored Mother Earth and bled her dry generations before i
was born, bequeathing me / us the aftermath – a rusted tin can
rolling across dirt and tattered rags; monarchs and honeybees exist only
on yellowed postcards. the barrenness scissors any thread of hope.
when Grandsire dies, we bury him naked and coffinless in the ground so that
we might reduce our already-heavy footprints… as if (just once)
solicitude might make a difference to the dismemberment. later, we
discover a three-leaved seedling where Grandsire’s gut would have been. “are
you sure?” we measure the grave’s dimensions, survey the pale sky and earth swallowed
by drought – and hope. when the next corpse is planted, it happens again:
unexpected life sprouting where minerals leached, organs fermented. something
unnaturally green, its vein-wrapped trunk hearty enough to with–
stand the desolate climate. as their breadth increases, we hear fast-flapping wings
of birds i’d read about in textbooks but never seen. they perch and
caw from the bone-white branches covered in blue buds and dotted with spurs like a
hundred crooking fingers. when they bloom eyeball-sized fruits, a pleasant
scent mists from their punctured, star-shaped rinds. upon these, the birds feast every morning.
as their filled crops expand, their wingspans widen; their nectarous song
floats farther from the trees. one dawn we waken to find that Mother Nature’s will
has changed. there’s wind. the sky plumes clouds that fatten gray with rain, each drip
splashing palmfuls on flora and fauna, wet pearling off each massive bird’s back
to nourish the land. as the clouds disperse, our trees stretch closer toward
the welkin. and we dwindle into insignificance, harmless before the
growing kingdom. tiny as ants marching over the healing earth.
A native of Tampa Bay, Crystal Sidell grew up playing with toads in the rain and indulging in speculative fiction. When she’s not busy with librarianship or writing, she’s usually looking for ways to spoil her pets or stopping traffic to rescue animals. A Pushcart Nominee and Rhysling Finalist, her work appears in 34 Orchard, Apparition Lit, The Cosmic Background, F&SF, Factor Four Magazine, and others. You can find her online at https://crystalsidell.wixsite.com/mysite or through various social media platforms @sidellwrites
As a special treat, you can also listen to Crystal Sidell reading her poem with her birds chiming in in the background!