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Old girl, give me some of thy wood, and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree.

We walked up to the elder tree,
covered it with a broad cloth
to blind it, then cut it off
at the trunk's base. We
walked home, lumbering
over root-crowns in the forest,
our shoulders aching;
a vixen scream startled our troop;
three of us dropped
the prize and rushed off,
drawing our bows so that the string
combed back our beards
and our muzzles were revealed.
One snarled, the other
two smirked and waited; when
the bow-shot went off, there
was a high wind, and we lost
track of the stream. The fox,
struck and limping, slinked
behind a rotting oak's body
and fell. We left it there with
the limbs contorted: one of us,
the youngest of our band,
said it was a bad omen. So
we returned to the severed elder,
hung the thing at our hips
like a compass needle;
when lightning
lit the grey sky, ghosting
our faces, we went stock-still
and dropped it where we stood.

Matthew Porto is an MFA Candidate and Teaching Fellow at Boston University.  After earning a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Scranton in 2012, he taught ESL in Tainan, Taiwan for one year and currently lives in Boston.  He has privately printed two poetry collections, Flora and Fauna (winter 2014) and Dignity Astray (spring 2015).
Current Issue
21 Nov 2022

As far back as I could remember, Oma warned me about the bats. She said they would eat me if they found me exposed at night. But I knew the green light of the moon would protect me, even when I was still smaller than Oma.
The truth is: / she does not have to bend into a ceramic plate to carry us beautifully, & my father / isn't the hand that will break her.
the rattle of the rails, the shuffling-muttering of hundreds of passengers nestled in the one long limb of you
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