And the Leaves, the Flowers

by Benjamin Cutler

She was the only person who left me a note about what type of tree she is—which by the way is a magnolia. (Ask her why.) -from principal’s weekly newsletter to faculty

So I did—ask. They’re fun

to climb, she said, and the leaves,

the flowers. I thought then

of how I had never climbed

a magnolia, never lost

my body in the glossy spearhead

leaves, the blossoms set in solitude

or pairs—as feathered and full

as resting doves. And I wondered

whether I could, still, now,

after long, lift limb to limb

and limb to limb. Weeping

willow—because I’m beautiful

and sad, I said when she asked,

and we laughed

because neither of us knew

if this were true but knew it couldn’t

be wrong. I have hidden behind

those summer curtains and stripped

yellow whips of their slender, shineless

leaves, been a smudge in the palm-

smeared paint. I have reached

and climbed into that spill,

that riverside sway: a bow

to water’s whispered prayer.

These languid arms have such shy

fingers: flowers that do not try

to look like birds,

or even blossoms,

at all.

Image: @tairen /