There are red ribbons tied around the ones that must go. Not all of them are unhealthy—they are just in the way. Slowly, I walk the property apologizing to each one—the stately white oak, the tulip poplars, the hickory. With my hand spade I kneel to dig up a dozen or so seedlings that are also in the path of our new home’s construction. i will plant them out of harm's way. Then, placing my bare feet next to the trunk of the tallest oak and placing my palms on its rough bark, I try to match our pulses. To feel as one.
where the sap
no longer runs
Dragons live Forever
My father reclines in his La-Z-Boy, the afghan pulled up over his head like a burial shroud. His lighter, ashtray, cigarettes, inhaler and oxygen tank are within reach. His nicotine-stained fingers—the color of sausages gone bad—twitch as he dreams.
He is 8-years old, behind the barn with his cousins Donny and Marvin in Yale, Michigan. Donny, three years his senior, clumsily rolls a cigarette, mimicking the moves of their grandfather. He licks the paper and pulls a piece of tobacco from his tongue, flicking it to the ground. Donny hands the gnarled thing to Marvin, the second oldest, who lights it. He takes a puff but doesn't inhale. He hands the cig to my dad who inhales deeply, filling his 8-year-old lungs. He doesn't cough. He exhales slowly and smiles.
My father awakens, turns off the oxygen tank and reaches for his cigarettes. The smoke fills his 72-year old lungs. He exhales, coughs, and reaches for his inhaler.
mom changes the ending
of the fairy tale
Haiku Society of America Haibun Awards, Third Place, 2012