Instead of staying with you
in the house by the lake, which I did do,
what if I had slipped out and run away
through the woods, away from the lake?
Running from you with my whole body
I could make a rule: every time I see a tree
I will forgive you. For example,
here is a tree moving toward me.
The tree is a symbol. It means
I need to forgive you. So
I forgive you. To the left
another tree, an oak with pointed leaves.
I forgive you. I want to live a good life.
I do not want to carry this anger. New tree,
forgiveness as I run, we will both get on
with our lives. Tree even though you say
the words I didn’t touch you. Tree.
Who will believe. Dead branches,
I have no choice but run, forgive. Tree
as if you were not violent.
More different tree.
More you are not responsible
in your cabin by the water. More
you never did hit me. Tree,
forgiveness, tree, until
I make it to the road
in the middle of which, by design,
no trees grow. Where
some farmer comes by in a tractor,
sees me running and panting,
picks me up and brings me
to the middle of the big field
where there are only miles of grass,
of sky. What then. And then.
Lauren Clark is a failed archaeologist. Her writing has appeared in the Offing, the Journal, DIAGRAM, and Ninth Letter, among other journals. She works at Poets House in New York City.