It was good to fill the sinkhole myself after the landscaper

botched the job. Beneath the plant he poised, thirsty

on red clay—divots of emptiness. Ten bags of top soil go in

smelling of the deciduous north, released

from bags hugging dirt like a girdle.

I want to throw in my worn underwear,

mover’s boxes, insurance adjusters wearing

their snide smiles. I want to throw in the site

of trauma, but here it is as I tap the spade down – the gap

the massive oak left and how it will open

every year—unhinging its jaws.  

I used to listen to the tree’s elocutions:  its deep

drinking, its network of mouths—

felt the mastery of its anomalous hide.  

I heard its power, wind in its canopy indigent. After

the tree went down—scavenger dawns,

my rapacious need for touch, pretending

I liked it, saying really it’s okay,

when he pulled out. But it wasn’t.

The way he turned me face-down in the middle

of the night, used his wrestler’s move:

his left knee on the back of my left knee, pinning

me until he was satisfied. It was

a happen. A thing. A toy

called nothingness. You can’t

always get what you want. I dream the familials

signaling underground to let the tree go.

The new oaks and the ancients. All that

subterraneous asking, and the polite refusals.

Weakened by hurricane, weakened

by every sonic storm, the rape of the last century,

the rape of this one. Released finally—

the earth opening, the thudding fall.

Amy Pence
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