I was raised by a Canadian hemlock, her perfume
smelled like freedom from pointy days.
I named her Homeland, my secret bunker beneath
her dense arms and mothering coolness.
I brought her gifts—Barbie heads and my favorite
yo-yo wedged into her pine needle duff.
I took home her gifts—pinecone soldiers, rosy
purple violets and mushrooms creamy white.
Trees were eternal then. In the grove across
the street—never just one birthed sweet apples
but together the whole family that also hosted
confetti parties for the honeybees. Today,
a new city, a much older life and the anxious
blur of bison tails fenced into the heat of a
metro park’s prairie summer. Along the trail,
rising darkness is left to fewer crickets, fewer
fireflies, more plastic bottles, more cigarette butts.
Down the road Walnut Woods—woods
no longer, but sterile orchards of lampposts
and concrete and hybrid grass turf.
In my front yard a Ponderosa pine planted
by another family now bends a tall obtuse
angle into the sky. My husband fears above
ground its thick roots will surrender to fierce
winds and massacre a neighbor’s roof,
so he contemplates preemptive action
and I, after each twilight run, stroke
her sticky trunk for the sake of another day.
Rikki Santer’s poems have appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Heavy Feather Review, Slab, Slipstream, [PANK], Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Hotel Amerika and The Main Street Rag. Rikki Santer’s work has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Rikki’s eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series was recently published by Luchador Press.