The Forest Cycle (excerpts)

And to be lost in the woods ...
                       —Serena Pichou


She has made a home
in the hollow trunk of a dead tree.
It is as if she lives at the bottom
of the riverit is that dark and silent,
and currents pulse through her.

No one comes to her.
It is as if the whiteness outside
lives in her bones. She dreams

of a river flowing over its banks,
leaving silt and chaos. She dreams
of how the dark soil glistens
when the sun rises.

Early Spring

In the upper reaches of the stream,
ice cracks and shifts, silver fish
drift past the small cloud plants swaying
in the cold motion. There is a gurgle
and rush as water collects in a small bend
littered with mulchy leaves,
then disperses. It is like his blood
gathering pressure at the heart
then rushing out to his limbs.

Later in the season, he will lie down naked
in the shallow bed, letting the stream
course past his shoulders, hips, legs,
flow over his chest and groin,
caressing him and leaving him,
caressing him and leaving him.


When he caught her, she froze,
then turned toward him
with the face of a tree,
face of a branch, stark
against the bright sky.
"Tree" he called her.
She remained silent.
He loved braiding her hair.
She loved touching his smooth hands.
When he was gone, she hummed,
eyes closed,
and the birds came
and built nests in her hair.

Poems by Lisa Sitkin:

All Along We Were Woven
I have never
Love Poems
The Bookbinder's House, Selvole
The Limit of Literature
The Forest Cycle (excerpts)
My Grandmother's Heart
Why I Love Swimming
The Gift
Asia's Hands

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets