burial for a single branch

Robin Gow


in heaven the trees arrive
upside down. they’re pieced together
slowly, one limb at a time
as their bodies on earth rot.
angels & people come to sit beneath the trees
each day & observe how they’re coming in–
if any of them are finish. they bring
lawn chairs & they point up, hoping
to catch a whole limb appear & speculating
about the fall of the limb down on earth.
trees were the first animal
i ever feared the death of.
i put my ear to trees trunks & hoped
to hear them growing. my dad once
remarked one of my favorite trees in the park
was already dead & i tore pieces of bark off
as if to try & wake the creature up,
as if pain might rouse the oak & make it
decide to live longer, but he was right
& the whole tree was rotted to the core.
what scared me most was that there didn’t
seem to be a reason anyone could point to
as to why trees died. in heaven
they are equally as uncertain & they remedy
their uncertainty by watching the forest come in
all together. company is most important for forgetting
there are so many things we don’t know
which is to say, people are a lovely distraction.
i climbed the small quiet maple
in my aunt’s front yard
& tore off brittle dead branches
near the top & one angel noticed the first
tiny vein of a branch emerge in the sky.
i asked everyone if they thought
the tree was going to die & they said
it was lush & healthy so i
buried that single limb in the yard
& returned to check on it each day.
i listened to the tree who whispered
in a language i couldn’t recognize.
maybe i was hearing heaven’s chatter
about the single thread-like limb
in the clouds. what i’m trying to say is
each tree is terrifying. i worry they’re
all dead where they’re standing.
i worry they’re like stars & how some stars
are likely dead. when the trees bloom
i worry most that their knees will buckle
like a tossed bouquet. why, of all things,
would trees have to die?
what god would plant them
upside down in heaven?




Robin Gow is the author of the chapbook HONEYSUCKLE by Finishing Line Press. Their poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Roanoke Review. They is a graduate student and professor at Adelphi University pursing an MFA in Creative Writing. They is the Editor at Large for Village of Crickets and Social Media Coordinator for Oyster River Pages. Their first full-length poetry collection is forth-coming with Tolsun Books.