We never had a forest, only
the orchard across the street where
we crackled the shaken walnuts
beneath bare frantic feet,
yelling words our parents told us
never to say. We said them anyway
because saying them made us feel
grown up. When we did grow,
the trees became our sentinels,
guarding us as we huddled with
pilfered cigarettes and bourbon.
Despite the “No Trespassing” signs
posted on every other tree,
I go there still, walk through
the grasping branches, humming
the cadence of chronic solitude
and think of leaving to find you.
But there is enough to keep me here
beneath the hushed ovation of leaves.
Michael Julian Arnett’s work has appeared in Queen Mob’s Tea House, HARK, Empty Mirror, The Altar Collective, and the EEEL. He is editor at large for Cyberhex and an MFA candidate at Pacific University. He lives in Northern California.