Spring/Fall 2020

pink flower, white wood

by Kari Treese

I keep having this dream in which I shave
             a cutting             of the ceiba speciosa

that grew in my front yard when I was a child.
            I save one             silk floss twig covered

all over with sharp grey thorns and bloomed
            with a single             shockingly pink flower.

I prick my skin on the thorns. The white wood
            goes red             inside. I plant the cutting

in a pot in my living room; it withers
            in the sun             light. The flower drops

into the pot and melts into the soil. The next
            day, the seed pod             hangs

like a fat sausage off the tip of the vine.
            It bursts into sweet             tufts of fluff

cotton I stuff under my pillow. I wake to pick
            black seeds             from my teeth.             Three

days later, branches reach into every corner.
            New flowers bloom             in the night.

I can see my face in their stamens. I shimmy
            around the thorned twigs             scraping

my walls. On day seven, I lie under the branches
            of this tree of refuge taken             root

in the floor. A breeze shudders through an open
            window and some of the flowers             float

kiss my cheeks. I hear someone’s voice: I tried
            to love             you

The sheltering tree weeps red down the walls. I drink
            flower milk and plant their seeds in my             belly.

I don’t know how to wake from this dream. There still
            under the silk floss tree             breathing
                        thorns in my                         throat.

a dedication

He is losing all the toes
on his left foot. Gangrene
ate them and bit

into the meat of his sole
and calf. When his mother died,
he inherited the glasses.

Not after her house or money,
just a piece of her life, a token.
She’d found a new one

everywhere she traveled: shots,
steins, globes, tumblers, flutes,
stems. He built shelves to display

this collection of empty vessels.
He’d draw a finger across the patient
accrual of fine dust—a line on the glass.

I dream about smashing them.


Kari Treese is an MFA candidate in prose at Mills College where she is the managing editor of 580 Split. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Lunch Ticket, Rivet, and others. She is a fiction reader at Atticus Review. Kari’s a fish person, for whatever that’s worth. https://karitreese.com/

Spring/Fall 2020