‘Daphne’s Grove’, Hayley Stone

Illustration © 2018 Joyce Chng

 [ Grove, © 2018 Joyce Chng ] I take good care
of the girls here.
I feed them birdsong and dress
their boughs with

They no longer have
to worry about keeping
clean. I have planted
weeds in the beds
of their nails, packed
the soil tightly around
their skinny

Some ask for flowers
ahead of time.
This can be arranged
except in winter
when the dead, crusty
earth jealously hoards
all color, and even the sky
turns bloodless
and cold.

The girls are free
to leave. Some do.
Others stay for a season
or two
or three
before climbing out
of their wooden bodies.

Shaking off the nettles
and the leaves, they
how to survive
on air
instead of sun.

They move
for the first time
without the wind’s guidance,
without being pressured
by a storm.

They move
too quickly, dizzied
by their own lightness—
and sometimes
not always
they smile.

It is, like everything
a process. Some never learn
how to go back
to flesh, to blood, trapped
in their own bony

It is not their fault.

When given
the option of laurels
few choose to return
to thorns.

© 2018 Hayley Stone

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