A scar on my right bicep
where a pine pierced me, on a long-ago hike
in the depth of a mountain valley.
Lower branches tend to break as the tree grows
and this one awaited me precisely
at 5’ 5”
on an overgrown trail.

Am I inoculated by its sap?
Cut to the heartwood, the bitter pith,
deep inside.

No, not a scar—a lifeline,
a life’s blood. Mind and memory,
drumming in us all, even if we can’t hear above the din.
Like the holy ghost,
a great horned owl, here in the piney forest,
fleeing on silent wings
from a mob of crows.

A pocket of pines
in a deciduous forest,
a fairy ring
sprung from dark soil.
With intentionality,
rooted by someone.
Perhaps a red squirrel, the mad planter.

Or maybe a woman, like me, who longs for
dappled light,
dreams of a gray pony’s coat.
Was this her English garden, writ small,
and northern?

I claim her garden, a dark refuge where
the branches hang close and pennaceous
like a broody raven.
I’m in her clutch.

In the wind, the pines sway like horsehair. My hair, too, is coarse
from winter’s parch.
Underfoot, spent needles
are a worn parquet floor.
Every step is sensation and scent,
cinnamon-red and resinous.

-Kathryn Ganfield

Kathryn Ganfield has always lived in river towns, where everything old is made new again. Her work has appeared in The Talking Stick and is forthcoming in Portage Magazine and Plum Tree Tavern. Follow her on Twitter @KTGanfield