· SPRING /FALL 2013 | VOLUME 9 | ISSUE 1 ·

Rougarou, an online literary journal.

White Branches

Joan Marie Wood

ice-wagons trailing melt, the Hospital
gone, severed by time and ashthe land now given to
Frejya’s windsong, a
season changethe mother’s ache, her
depression locked in the water below the wagon

her fox collar
and red lipsonce there was renewed hopethe
frozen clatter of frost-coated branchesthen Dr. C
said no dischargeshe died and now he’s been
dead ten years

you get ice from your own Energy
Star fridge these dayssome residents walk
their beaglesyou don’t say, a mental hospital?they
tore it down, built the mall
the mother’s black valise
her casework papers, her women clients in New York
during the War

where is the tree?ice water
seeps downthe dogs sniff
at its white trunk
Frejya used to
warm the hearth, feed
the childrennow they ride silently
in the backseats of silver SUVs, look out the window
did the mother feel the season change?

did she climb the white branches?
leave the world to the landlords, leave her sorrow
to the horse pulling the wagon?how many tons of
asphalt covered the old grounds?

stepping up the ladder to the rope, did she
see the land of heroes above?
the last of the
ice water drains to a culvert
hidden beneath the humus at the base of
the hidden tree

the first line is from Adrienne Rich’s “Baltimore”