I swear that tree is human whose blossom’s gaping on the table— pistil, stamen, stiff & fragile— leaf & petal, green & white, I broke it from the bloody branch, like from the tree of Dante’s forest which, when broken off, began to speak, hissing from the dripping limb. I took the blossom for its beauty but now it sits there in a little water as if to mock me, a half-dead thing— a creature dying, a waking stick— opening & closing, day & night.

4 September 1976