Holly Lyn Walrath
Spring Will Come Again
One hundred black birds perch on straggling branches—
a maze of interwoven fingers forming chapel and steeple
of the death tree and its erstwhile lover.
When they were seedlings, before they bore toxic fruit,
Oh how the trees bloomed! Twins smiling in the glass
of the lake at their feet, satisfied with their beauty,
rioting in spring, cherishing the tumbled buds
like a girl’s long hair cut short.
They watched each fallen blossom sprawl
across the water’s surface, ruddy bodies
seeking better shores, prayed over by the trees,
which dreamed of a daughter or a son planted
somewhere green, perhaps the center
of a wheat field, with a thousand little creatures
scurrying in the roots and butterflies cocooning on the leaves.
But now, they sow nothing
except the souls of the dead
carried on bottle-poison wings
of the raven, grackle, crow and starling,
birds who honor death with bits of twine and string,
a red locket dancing in the wind, doll’s eyes and shining rings,
strands of golden hair and bracelets of the queens—
a nest of memory filled with tokens for their auguries.
What part of themselves did these souls, these ghost riders, misplace?
What plane did they transgress? What crime did they commit
binding them to the darkness, to the death trees,
where twin hearts await, eager to blossom once more?
Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Liminality, and Kaleidotrope among others. She wrangles writers as a freelance editor and volunteers as the associate director of Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. Find her online @hollylynwalrath or hlwalrath.com
Editor’s Notes: A death tree, blood splatter, and crow collage to create an ominous black on white image contrasted with the red.