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.
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/