PRESERVES by Laura Romeyn

/ / Issue 15

The girl sets her pan away
from the house, grasps the branch,

pulls from the crown a wash
of its apples. She breathes loudly

into her swollen hands, pulses
the pan for some thin company.

Miles out from the main road,
streets turn to lanes into stone

into woods. Discarded stalks
and collected decayed return

to the bucket, or are scrapped
to pile in heaps. As a swarm

of monarchs arrive in their color
to wheel down together, each year

the girl bows also to the shapes.
Winds deeper into unorchared

grounds where unplucked weight
breaks branches. This year

her prints go farther in.
This year she moves faster

than her gathering pace: no pan,
no pail, no jar. She is out there.

Where trees teem red with ripe
fruit, wild fruit, the tree line

collects as one bridge of branches
no person looks for, or after.

And so the living spoil
in it, under it, because of it.