Edited by BLAS FALCONER | BARRY KITTERMAN | AMY WRIGHT
It was a year before the hurricane took the tree, the season when red oak apple galls fall—summer, late spring. They rolled everywhere. I gathered them, put them in a jar next to the dog’s unused tramadol, eye drop vials, the Chinese herbs Blood Palace, astrylagus and ligustrum. We would have done anything to save her. Already had, but saving begets trust in saving. Red mottled with white tracks when they fall, oak galls feel hard as wood, light in hand. Leaves deformed by larval inhabitants. They resembled her cancer when it clung to her exterior: red, veiny solid nodules rushing up from the toes. Cancer in bloom. Tangible. It wasn’t that the oak galls helped me find some sort of logic: life in death, wasp in balled leaf, cancer a kind of life. I am not so brave or purposeful. More uniform in shape than the tumors but sharing their color, they served as a means to keep any part of her, if only a shade of what took her. Their tree’s now stumped flat. It hugged the house when it fell.
To pen the sacred
scribes dipped quills in oak gall ink,
Galls dry in my jar.
No ink could move my hand to
leach out their dark hearts.