The Living There

I have it in a sense that it’s with me again: the
rough brush of mud-splattered thumbs stuffed
into tree knots, wondering how far we could
push through the rim of rotting wood, what
beneath we’d find if we peeled the shell, if we
lifted the bark with our small hands—a puff of
earth-smelling stuff released in silent gasps, the
sighing of a dying tree, fibers wilting right down
to dirt, shedding the death shell back to earth,
and with each burst of breeze its fabric splayed,
unwoven. How we played with its pirate bones,
pulling limbs apart, dissecting the dead en-
masse. Stripped down to the core, like you
decided to peel off the lid over Baltimore,
unknown swarms swell—small lives unnoticed
by larger eye-gleams. The living there teem.

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