Devon Miller-Duggan

Tree, Shadow, Short Circuit
by Devon Miller-Duggan

Crook-armed acacia bark all split and sedimentary,
branches dissolving into green feathers without control of air.
Shadow like a snake’s back—all mottle and shift.

Out in the sun-slugged dirt, red-throat blossoms
from the flower-spikes above spiked ashy-green stems—
I could learn the name they sing at me, but I’d forget.

Even now, 81 years into life and 50 into
her nerves eating away at their own skin,
my mother still looks at every tree and plans how to climb.

Myelin, a white substance that surrounds the electrically insulating
material that forms a sheath
(like bark) around the axon of a neuron.
It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

There is no flight. Her hands remember bark, her muscles recall
strength, her hands believe they know how to reach for
the next branch. Words fall away like leaves in hard wind.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 4.

devon-miller-duggan_sqDevon Miller-Duggan has had poems appear in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, The Indiana Review, The Hollins Critic and elsewhere. She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, and an editor’s prize in Margie.

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