The Tree, Shaken

Each dream bears a nut these days:
She is cruel. Was she always?
The nut opens: Inside is the suicide
who walks herself to death, and a friend,
drinking in the living room. Or is she
the mother? It’s time to forgive her
her hemlock, its sloppiness, its anger.
She’s happy.

I wait until childhood matures,
the sugar turning. I let the heart
burn from the awful I love you’s late
in the afternoon when she reveals
what her mother died of: complications.
How complicated can drink be?

The Irish inherit depression
and too many children. That’s me.
If we’re a tree long on DNA
and short on survival, you can see,
my friend who-is-just-a-little-tipsy,
where I drag the tree forward,
then try to walk, then walk.
It’s time to forgive her.

Terese Svoboda is an author and poet living in New York City. Her writing has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Bomb, Lit, Columbia, Yale Review and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of both the O. Henry and Pushcart Prize. Her fifth collection of poetry, Weapons Grade, will be published this fall by the University of Arkansas.