Day Six of Quarantine

by Autumn Connor

We leave the chaos
of white walls and walk
into the colors of the woods
with my mother, tightly wrapped
in black, my brother eating chip dust
from the ruffles bag, and my father,
stoic and young
despite the gray and white blanket
that covered his lips.

The birds’ voices ring out and die
as we approach a fallen tree,
splintered and cracked at the chest,
its shattered flesh branched out
upon the mulch like snowflakes
only warmer and rough to the touch.
The head of the blackened ruin
held on with a creaking sliver of bark.
Sap might still flow
through the silent highways of the wood.

We did not hear the crack and moan
of its dying breath,
and since our last trip
through the pines
its broken body
is the only thing that changed.
Everything around the corpse lay still,
yet in this time of mourning
saplings began to reach out their little green fingers
to the blooming sun
smothered for many years
by the rotting tree at our feet.

Perhaps it is time for the underbrush
to reclaim the warm sun slant
left behind from a natural death.

My mother, biologist carved in the deep crease of her eyes,
takes several pictures of the fracture with her new phone
and then stands
while the birds cry and cut at living bark
and the trees share condolences
with the whispers of their green hands
colliding with their neighbors’,
and I walk on alone.

Autumn Rose Connor is an undergrad at SUNY Binghamton studying creative writing and French south of the Adirondacks in New York. Her poems have appeared in her college’s student run magazine, Harvey Literary Magazine. A Saratoga Springs native, she enjoys long walks in nature, writing music, and hiking with her dog.